On October 4, 2015, six teenagers (ranging in ages from 14-16 years old) were in a 1995 BMW heading home from Knott’s Scary Farm around 2 AM when their car veered off the freeway, crashed through the guardrail, went up the embankment, and went up in flames.
Five of those teenagers perished. The driver, then-16-year-old Bradley Morales, suffered head injuries but survived the crash. He was 16 at the time and did not have a valid driver’s license. We wrote about it last year when it happened – read about it here. (We also include interesting statistics and relevant laws. Check it out.)
Now, a year later, Morales has been charged with five felony counts of gross vehicular manslaughter, driving without a license, and failure to show proof of financial responsibility in connection with the accident. Read the Daily Pilot article here.
A year later, this story still haunts us. It is so much more difficult to swallow, knowing that it could have been prevented.
Since we are entrusted with kids’ lives every day, we view doing everything within our power to ensure their safety as our utmost duty and responsibility. Parents, we want you to know that we care about you and your children. We want you to know that we stand firm on these issues.
This epidemic has to stop.
Here are some of our opinions: First and foremost, if a kid doesn’t have a license, they don’t drive. Period. Second, even if they do have a license, they should not have passengers in the car and should not be out till 2 AM driving with passengers in the car. Passengers have been shown to be just as distracting as cell phones! (High speeds were possibly a factor also.)
Why is an unlicensed kid driving? Why are 14-16 year olds going all the way from South Orange County to North Orange County – on the freeways no less – at night, without adult supervision? Why are they coming home at 2 AM?
We respect that different families do things differently. However, this is not an issue of personal parenting preferences. Clearly this is a matter of life and death. There is a major lesson to be learned here:
Parents, we must never get so comfortable that we neglect these details. You may have a great kid, and your kid may have great friends – but the fact remains, they are kids. They don’t have the knowhow or the life experience you have, nor do they possess the full mental capacity to appreciate the gravity of their decisions.
Kids are notoriously bad decision-makers, which is why car accidents are still the #1 killer of teenagers in America. It is unfair to entrust them with such monumental responsibilities.
As you can see, we are very passionate about this, because as a result of a series of bad ideas, five families will forever grieve the loss of their children and one boy is being charged with murder. Regardless of the outcome, he has to live with the consequences of his actions for the rest of his life.
Our thoughts are with all the individuals and families involved in this tragedy.
Kids, please be safe. And parents, please do everything you can to make your kids be safe.