Tuesday, October 29, 2002

This course could save a teen's life

Two moms sat across from each other, talking about their daughters and hoping to save the lives of teenage drivers.

Outside, a steady rain fell in the heart of Mariemont.

Inside, tears slid down the women's cheeks.

The moms, Pam Boynton and Paula Comisar, are friends because of their girls. Pam's Morgan and Paula's Kenzie first met in the fourth grade and became best friends.

Morgan is 17, a senior at St. Ursula Academy.

Kenzie died in August. A car wreck claimed her life. This has happened all too often to too many Tristate teens this year.

Kenzie was driving alone that night. Summer was in full bloom. Just like the passionate 17-year-old.

She was on her way to pick up Morgan. They were bound for the mall.

Kenzie never reached her destination. Her Jeep rolled over, and she died of head injuries.

Her mother told me excessive speed has been ruled out as a cause of the accident. So have drugs and alcohol. Kenzie was not using her cell phone. She was wearing her seat belt.

"We think she swerved to avoid a deer," Paula said.

"Because of her inexperience she oversteered, which flipped the car."

Kenzie's tragic death moved Pam to action.

She contacted David Thompson, founder of the New Driver Car Control Clinic in Melbourne, Fla. He and his staff conduct accident avoidance clinics across the country for parent-teen teams. Including classroom and in-car training, a clinic costs $125 per team.

Pam has booked the Dec. 6-8 weekend for the clinic's trainers to come to town. Now, she needs 40 teams.

She wants to gauge the interest of area high schools in the clinic. She welcomes calls. Her office number is 561-5800, extension 275. Go ahead, fill up her voice mail. It may save the life of someone you love.

Open to all

Pam and Paula know that the $125 fee may be too steep for many families.

They're looking for sponsors - school booster groups, car dealers, insurance agents - to underwrite the clinic's cost.

Paula said scholarships would also come from Kenzie's memorial fund.

Pam isn't used to planning such events. Volunteerism is not her line of work.

"I've been busy raising my children and working." She sells real estate. "But this was so close to home."

Since Kenzie's death, Pam has found herself making a mental list of other car crashes involving teens. Julia Schmidt, a St. Ursula classmate of Morgan and Kenzie, lost her life in an accident in January. Four Goshen High School students died 11 days after Kenzie. Seven Warren County teens were seriously injured Sept. 9.

Each accident has made Pam ask herself: "What can I do to help?"

She hopes the answer to that question is this clinic.

Heartfelt courage

Pam and Paula are to be admired. For their efforts. And their courage.

Both are fueled by the love they feel for their daughters.

Many of us would not be able to be so strong. Or caring.

The natural response would be to withdraw. To be alone with your grief.

Both women realize that helps no one.

Paula believes Kenzie would approve of these clinics. And would get her friends to attend. She was always enlisting kids in worthwhile projects.

Pam and Paula believe these clinics are worth the time and money even if they save just one life.

So, give Pam a call. Help spare other mothers the anguish of getting together on a rainy day to shed tears for their children.

Call Cliff Radel at 768-8379; or e-mail: cradel@enquirer.com.

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