Teens eagerly wait for their 16th birthday to come. The shiny car keys, freedom, and ability to drive through Chick-Fil-A at any time sounds so promising. But for some, those dreams can quickly come to a halt in a single moment. Whether it’s uncontrollable weather conditions or a glance at a text message, teens can get into an accident that will change their look on life permanently.
Junior Jenna Lopez was driving to school on a Friday morning as part of her daily routine. But everything changed when her car flipped and rolled two and a half times when she tried to avoid the oncoming traffic she was heading towards.
“In the moment I was thinking ‘I’m never gonna see anyone again’ and ‘This can’t be happening,’” Lopez said. “I got some cuts on my knees, a concussion and some bruises, but I felt good enough to go to school the same day.”
This accident made Lopez more cautious as a driver and a passenger, turning down the volume and holding her driver’s phone to prevent distractions.
“I learned to be thankful for everything I have and God does perform miracles for you because he did it in my life,” Lopez said. “And I value everything I have a lot more.”
Junior Jessi Heinsohn, a close friend of Lopez, recounts the day of the accident. With three classes together, Jessi found herself talking about Lopez all day and making sure she was okay.
“She texted me saying ‘I just got in a wreck, but I’m okay’ and I was freaking out because I thought there was no way she could just get in a wreck and be perfectly fine,” Heinsohn said. “But Jenna sent me a selfie with a thumbs up so that calmed me down.”
Lopez and Heinsohn have grown closer through this accident, and have both become safer drivers who are more conscious of the dangers of driving.
Senior Ashton Cleer was heading home on a Friday night after a football game with her friend. When all of a sudden she was stopped in the middle of an intersection, doors wedged shut, at a loss for words.
“In the moment I was just thinking, ‘What the heck?’ and I didn’t understand what had happened. I was just in a state of shock, trying to figure it all out,” Cleer said. “I got t-boned and my car was totaled. ”
Like Lopez, Cleer finds herself thinking back to her accident and taking preventative measures to make sure an accident like that doesn’t happen again. Shortly after the accident, Cleer refused to drive her friends in hopes of being a more focused driver, and had the radio off, too.
“I’m definitely a more paranoid driver now. When people slam on the brakes I do get a little jittery and grab the wheel to brace myself,” Cleer said. “I wasn’t paying full attention when I got in an accident, so now I make sure there aren’t any distractions.”