Nine teenagers decided that they’d end the school year by cutting out and heading to the beach. So the teens from Ed White High School in Jacksonville got inside a 1997 Ford Explorer last Friday morning for a day in the sun. Instead, their family, friends, and schoolmates are mourning the death of three, and the injury of six after the SUV rolled several times and crashed on I-295.
According to a report, 15-year-olds Kimber Krebs and John Kiely, and 17-year-old Dennis Stout were all killed in the SUV rollover in Jacksonville. Three others remain in critical condition when they flew out of the rolling car. Only the driver, 15-year-old Brandon Hodges was wearing a seat belt. He walked away while two others are in fair condition at a local hospital.
It’s almost hard to believe, but at a church service Saturday, the parents didn’t blame the driver, instead they recognized that their children all made some bad decisions. Our hearts go out to these parents at their time of grief.
Florida law says that if you have a learners permit, you must be with a licensed driver over the age of 21. It’s not known if Hodges had a learner’s permit but no one in the car was older than 17. Charges are reportedly pending against the young teen.
Florida also has a mandatory seat belt law, but teens are notorious for not wearing their seat belts. Among the 4,540 teenagers killed in a vehicle accident in 2007, more than half were unbelted at the time of the Florida auto accident. At night, the rate of use is even lower with nearly two-thirds of 16- to-20 year olds killed in a car accident unbelted at the time.
An experienced law firm also has to inquire about the type of tire that was on the Explorer. Lawsuits have been filed against Ford for the Explorer’s Bridgestone/Firestone tires that were unsafe and had a tendency to de-tread. In this case, the Florida Highway Patrol reports that a rear tire blew out and the driver lost control.
Many of those recalled Firestone tires are still on the road. If you or a loved one has been in a car accident, you should look into what kind of tire your vehicle has and seek a skilled Jacksonville car accident attorney to help you determine what happened to cause the accident. At Farah and Farah, our personal injury and product liability lawyers are dedicated to defending the rights of those injured by another person’s negligence. Let us help you hold those accountable for your injuries. Contact us today for a free evaluation.