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Archive for Friday, April 15, 2011

Olathe firefighter hopes teens learn traffic safety lesson from his son’s death

April 15, 2011

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— Olathe Fire Capt. John Myers has a personal message when he talks to students about traffic safety. His 16-year-old son Zach Myers died after a crash in December.

Myers spoke Thursday at Olathe South High School at an event called Operation Prom Night in which firefighters, police and drama students demonstrated the trauma of a simulated accident.

Zach Myers was a passenger in a vehicle driven by another teen who was going twice the speed limit when their vehicle crashed. Zach died the next day, according to The Kansas City Star.

Myers said he hopes hearing of his son's death can help teenagers make better choices.

"No parent should have to lose a son or a daughter," he said.

Firefighters have expanded the prom event beyond its original anti-drunken driving message. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for 15- to 20-year-olds. Distractions like phones, texting and driving too fast combine with inexperience to kill, he said.

Myers' son wore a seatbelt and was in the rear seat, the safest in a car, when he was fatally injured.

But the three students in the car all had backpacks filled with books, and one or more slammed into his son's head, Myers said.

"It was like getting hit in the head with a large cannonball," he said.

Myers watched the demonstration in the parking lot as drama students played roles of prom partiers who had been drinking and crashed into an SUV. Firefighters cut out actors playing two injured and one dead person.

Then Myers walked with hundreds of students to the auditorium to speak to them. His voice broke and he cried as he told them of going to the hospital to see his son bleeding with tubes sticking out of him.

"My son didn't have to die," he said. "Speed kills — there is a reason we have speed limits."

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