Clark County takes action after 3 teen driving deaths

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Clark County Teen Driving Symposium

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The Clark County Combined Health District will host its first Teen Driving Symposium after three Greenon students died in crashes just months apart.

Senior David Waag, 17, and sophomore Connor Williams, 15, were killed in August while they were in the back seat of a car on Wilkerson Road between Fairborn and Yellow Springs. The driver allegedly lost control and the car hit a tree before rolling over, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol. They weren’t wearing seat belts.

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Two months later in October, junior Kendal “Kenny” DePhillip was killed while riding as a passenger in a car on Fowler Road between Rebert Pike and Broadway Road in Clark County. It went off the right side of the road, clipped a telephone pole and then hit another pole. He was wearing a seat belt.

The health district’s Clark County Safe Communities Coalition and #safeTEENfirst are working to decrease the number of teen deaths caused by traffic crashes, said Emma Smales, health educator and safe communities grant coordinator.

“We have been working toward lowering accidents and increasing seat belt usage,” Smales said.

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That’s because between 2015 and 2016, people weren’t wearing seat belts in over half of the fatal accidents in Clark County Smales said. The education and awareness event will talk about driving laws and regulations, Smales said, and it’s not just for students, it’s for parents, too.

“If you are under 18, everyone has to wear a seat belt in the car,” she said.

The symposium will highlight passenger responsibility, too. Even if you aren’t driving, Smales said, you need to pay attention so you know what’s going on.

The event will also have guest speakers from fatal crash victims’ families.

“Stop treating the vehicles as toys, they are not toys,” said Aryn Waag, the mother of David Waag.

Since August, she repeatedly talks about safety.

“Over and over and over since David’s accident, wear your seat belts,” Waag said.

Connor’s sister, Devin Williams now says the same thing, too. Neither want any other families to feel like them.

“We know the actual consequences and the day-to-day life of having to live without a person because of something like not wearing a seat belt,” Williams said.

They hope everyone who attends the event takes something away from it — most importantly, always wear a seat belt.

The Teen Driving Symposium will be at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15, at the John Legend Theater in The Dome, 700 S. Limestone. It’s free to attend.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol, Enon Police Department and AAA Driving School also will speak.

Students who attend will have the opportunity to win a $1,000 college scholarship. Requirements are that students have to attend a symposium and have a good driving record. The award will be issued in the spring.

Staying with the story

The Springfield News-Sun has provided in-depth reporting on the three teen driving deaths this fall, including stories examining driving laws and the causes of fatal crashes involving teens.

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