Event aims to keep teen drivers safe

ARLINGTON – Karlie’s giggle was contagious. Josh and his guitar were nearly inseparable. Ashley’s swing packed a wallop on the tennis court. Scott was a runner with an insatiable appetite.

Now all their parents are mourning.

Snohomish County teenagers Karlie Kaska, Josh Crolley, Ashley Griffiths and Scott Skiles died in vehicle crashes during the last 12 months.

Their deaths, along with numerous others over the years, are the motivation behind a free seminar for newly-licensed teen drivers and their parents Saturday.

Detectives from the Snohomish County Sheriff’s collision investigation unit and investigators with the county medical examiner’s office will join a panel of victims in hopes of preventing other fatal crashes.

“We want them to pay attention. We want them to make it home safe,” sheriff’s detective Doug Gold said. “If this doesn’t drive it home, I don’t know what will.”

Gold and the other detectives who investigate fatal and serious injury crashes around the county have seen the horrific aftermath time and again.

They want to share their experiences so teens can see the danger behind speeding, not wearing a seat belt, and engaging in drunken and inattentive driving.

Vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death among teenagers nationwide. The majority of crashes are preventable, Gold said.

The seminar isn’t a driver’s education course, he said. It’s meant to reinforce what teens have already been taught and show young drivers what can happen when they don’t follow the rules of the road.

“This is in your face and meant to drive home why it’s so important to make the proper decisions,” Gold said.

The detectives will describe five fatality crashes as well as share photographs of the wreckage. Later participants will have an opportunity to see those vehicles up close in an exhibit outside. There also will be a staged crash with a pedestrian.

Parents whose children have died in crashes also will talk about how their lives have been affected.

Because of the subject matter, parents are asked not to bring young children. The seminar is open to teens and their parents around the county. There is room enough for 700 people.

“This is a community effort and we want to reach as many people as we can,” Gold said. “We hope it will remind teens that it could happen to them.”

Reporter Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463 or hefley@heraldnet.com.

Free driving seminar

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s collision investigation unit plans to present a free seminar for newly licensed teen drivers and their parents from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Linda M. Byrnes Performing Arts Center, 18221 Crown Ridge Blvd., Arlington.

The seminar will include a crashed-vehicle exhibit and a staged pedestrian collision. A panel of victims and offenders also will share how vehicle crashes have affected their lives. Because of the subject matter and graphic images, parents are asked to leave younger children at home.

The event is sponsored in part by the city of Arlington, the Linda M. Byrnes Performing Arts Center, Cascade Valley Hospital, Arlington High School, Arlington’s Glass Doctor and Hansen’s Towing.

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