A twisted-steel and broken-glass reminder to drive safely

Sometimes we need a little physics lesson: When a 1,000 pound steel and glass box traveling at 40 mph smashes into another 1,000 pound box containing two people totaling something like 250 pounds, the result is, well, just look at the picture above. Sharing scary lessons like these is the idea behind the Safe Choices Program, which obtains mangled cars and displays them around the state to remind people that they aren't invincible behind the wheel.

Yesterday, June 2, officials with the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association (RMIIA), the Colorado State Patrol and other concerned groups that are part of the Safe Choices Program dedicated what remains of Seth Mutschler's Honda Accord on the West steps of the Capitol Building.

Seth and his friend Samara Stricklen were on their way to the movies on March 13, 2007, when a seventeen-year-old girl driving drunk, high and with too many passengers crossed four lanes of traffic and slammed into the two young moviegoers. Seth survived with serious physical and mental damage, but Samara did not. The driver of the SUV that crashed into them was sentenced as an adult to twelve years in prison.

Samara's mother, Michelle, was on hand at the dedication. Michelle is deaf and mute, but through sign-language interpreter Cheryl Miller, she recounted her final moments with her daughter: She remembers Samara leaving to go to the movies, standing at the doorway and turning around to say, "I love you."

When Michelle arrived at the hospital, doctors asked her to identify Samara's pink pager. The wreck had so disfigured Samara that Michelle only recognized her daughter because of her tattoos.

The car will now travel around the state, visiting schools and communities. "Sometimes [the car] shouts and sometimes it whispers," says Suzanne McLeod, who lost her daughter Caitlyn Criag in a crash several years ago. "But either way, it speaks to people."

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