Fatalities serve as a reminder: Please buckle up | SummitDaily.com

Fatalities serve as a reminder: Please buckle up

“Tin soldiers and Nixon’s comin’.

We’re finally on our own.

This summer I hear the


Four dead in Ohio.

Four dead in Ohio.

Four dead in Ohio.

Four dead in Ohio.

Four dead in Ohio.

Four dead in Ohio.

Four dead in Ohio.

Four dead in Ohio.

Four dead in Ohio.”

– Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

You know how you get a song lyric stuck in your brain and it just won’t go away? This song from the early 1970s has been on my mind ever since four people died on Highway 9 at Green Mountain Reservoir near Heeney near the Grand County line.

Four people who were here seven days ago are not here now. Three young girls and a grandfather. Gone. They will never come back. The grandfather was with his grandson. The grandson lived and the grandfather died.

The three girls were working in Steamboat Springs. They were all ejected from the car as it tumbled down from the road.

All three girls were college students in their homeland of Slovakia. The beginning of adulthood. The beginning of a life that held hope and promise.

Even after spending more than 30 years in law enforcement and eight years as county coroner, I still can’t get used to death. It still upsets me. It upsets me even more when young people are involved or when the death might have been prevented.

I remember when three Summit High School students were killed one afternoon near Dillon right before graduation.

I remember when six people were killed, four of them students, on Highway 9 near Tiger Road.

I remember. I remember.

According to the reports, none of the people killed last week was wearing a seat belt.

I know that this might end up being another “government interfering in people’s lives” issue, but what about interfering in people’s deaths? What about protecting the friends and family from having to grieve the death of a loved one? How about not being selfish – putting on a seat belt and saving everyone a lot of time, effort and emotional trauma?

We all remember the amount of protest that occurred over the war in Vietnam. Do you know more people die each year in traffic accidents than died during the entire Vietnam war? Let’s all protest that.

We all have opinions on the right to life. The life of an unborn child and how that needs to be protected is a matter of choice. What about the right to die? Do people have a right not to wear a seat belt and then die in a traffic accident?

I had two grandfathers. Some people have one fewer grandfather this week. I have three daughters. Three sets of parents in Slovakia each lost a daughter this week.

I remember all the arguments about how people died because they were wearing seat belts. I personally believe it is the exception rather than the rule. It took a bunch of years before I came to that conclusion. It took having to bag a bunch of dead bodies before I came to that conclusion.

It is against the law to not use your seat belt – you can get a ticket. Some of you might prefer to pay a fine rather than buckle up. I say go for it if that is your pleasure.

But every time you get in a car and fail to use your seat belt, picture your significant other or your children at your funeral. They will be haunted by the idea that you might have lived if you had buckled up.

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