For those of you that follow me, you’ll remember two stories that I recently wrote entitled 1 Year, 1 Month, 1 Day and Two Young To Go. A little over a year ago, I lost my niece and my brother-in-law & sister-in-law lost their 13-month old daughter to a reckless and negligent driver in a parking lot at Lenora Park, in a suburb outside of Atlanta.
If you read that story, you’ll know that Brooke and Olivia had entered a crosswalk after a driver had passed through it. The driver then decided to put her car in reverse and back up at a high rate of speed in the wrong lane, presumably to catch a parking spot. She knocked Brooke to the ground and took Olivia and the stroller with her. For reasons unknown, she proceeded to drive forward and back again over the stroller, ultimately killing Olivia.
In the weeks and months following, Brad & Brooke created The Olivia Anne Hellwig Foundation in honor of their daughter. They’re working to improve driver awareness in regard to pedestrian safety and recently met with their state senator to see what more they could do. This past Tuesday, senate bill 116 was passed and is now in committee in the Georgia House. It proposes stiffer penalties for those found guilty of vehicular negligence. I’ve attached an interview they just did with CBS Atlanta and as I was about to post it this morning, I started to read the comments on both pages.
Since I started writing three years ago, I’ve built a thick skin and normally let negativity slide off my shoulders. Today feels different. Perhaps it’s because the comments are aimed at my family and it’s my instinct to rise up and protect them. If those comments had any validity, maybe I’d feel less angry than I am. The truth is that this could’ve happened to ANY pedestrian. It very well could’ve been me or you. This wasn’t a normal ‘let’s cross the street’ moment. It was a reckless act. Let’s not forget that in almost ALL circumstances, pedestrians have the right of way. When not handled in a responsible manner, a vehicle is a weapon. There’s no fight when you put a car up against a person.
I’ll assume that the negative comments I read were from those misinformed about the details of this event, even if that’s not the case. Even if it means that people can be so cold, callous and ignorant that it makes my skin crawl. I refuse to lose faith in humanity.
I can’t even begin to relate with what Brad and Brooke have gone through since September of 2011, but I stand behind them with every fiber of my being and I hope, in honor of my niece, that more lives are saved because of their actions.
If you take anything away from this post – I hope it’s a lingering reminder that we need to take a minute, slow down and make sure that you aren’t about to do something that could forever change the lives of those around you.
Rest in peace sweet Liv, we love you.