MERIDIAN -- Throughout the past 18 months, several Treasure Valley teens have died in violent, and high-profile car crashes. The parents of these teens say the deadly link in these crashes is the failure to wear seatbelts.
CRASHES KILL FOUR
In March of 2012, two teens died after a crash on Curtis Road, just north of the connector. Two more teens died last September in a crash in the foothills near Table Rock.
On Thursday, the City of Meridian Mayor's Youth Advisory Council hosted a panel with several of the parents of the teen victims in these crashes. Speaking at these events was the mother and father of Kelsey Belcher, who died in the hospital after the crash on Curtis Road, along with the parents of Tiffany Walters and Bobby Rogers who were both thrown from the car in the September foothills crash. Walters and Rogers also died.
Authorities say a shared factor in these two crashes is that all the teens who lost their lives weren't wearing seatbetls during the crash. One girl survived the crash on Curtis Road, but she was the only person in either crash who wore her seat belt.
Angie Olson is the mother of Cody Olson, the 20-year-old who was driving the car during the March crash.
Olson was critically injured in the crash, but survived. He was later sentenced to 20 years in prison for vehicular homicide. Olson shared her story Thursday.
A MOTHER'S LOSS
She said a month before Cody crashed on the connector, his older brother Seth died in a single-car rollover accident where he wasn't wearing a seat belt. Furthermore, Olson said the teens who were in Cody's car during the deadly March crash were also at Seth's funeral a month earlier. Olson said she spoke to them about what happened, and said it's difficult that Seth's death did not compel them to wear their seat belts that night.
"That's the toughest thing for us," said Olson. "Because something so fresh -- you'd think that if anything is going to make a different that would be it. So I know all kids aren't going to get it, but I just hope a couple of them will. And it'll make a different for as many kids as possible."
Olson has a third son -- a 17-year-old -- who's also behind the wheel of car. She says he decided to take an "Alive at 25" safetey course after the events. Despite that, Olson said it was still hard when he started driving.
Alive at 25 is a free course, which is offered for students from age 14 to 25.
MESSAGE FROM PARENTS
The overwhelming message from parents on Thursday's panel was to make good choices. Olson also spoke up with with the following message:
"I just hope you honor and respect yourself enough to wear your seat belt, to make safe decisions when you're driving, and to think about the loved ones that you risk hurting you're not making good choices."