Youth Grove offers a stark reminder of staying safe on road

by Cougar News Contributor 0

By Yousef Bader

We turn on the news and discover another one of our youth was killed in a traffic-related collisions.

Lives are taken much too soon and family, friends and community members are left to grieve.

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photo by yousef bader

Traffic collisions are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, and every year, young kids are needlessly killed in these collisions. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that in 2015 10,076 people were killed in drunk driving crashes in 2013; 1 every 53 minutes. Every day in America, another 28 people die as a result of drunk driving crashes.

The message is clear. Don’t drink and drive, don’t text and drive, don’t talk on your cell phone.  Make sure you buckle up and stay focused.

Nestled between the beautiful tall trees in the corner of Central Park is a memorial, with a central monument encompassed by 102 pillars that resemble cut off tree stumps, each with a plaque bearing the name of a young life lost in a traffic related incident a young life cut short.  The half-acre Youth Grove is a startling reminder for our youth of the unfortunate consequences of of reckless driving. The completion of the Youth Grove took about three years of community fundraising and education and was opened in 2005

The Youth Grove was an idea that was given by a teenager who had a good friend of hers die in an alcohol related car crash.  She approached Frank Ferry who was on the city council, who brought the idea to the blue ribbon task force. Which was a group of city workers, community, workers and parents. Who all together decided to build the youth grove. To get the money to make the youth grove and to finish it took the committee 4 years. The teens placed in the youth grove have ties with the Santa Clarita valley and have had to have gone to school here. A teen that had been killed years before the youth grove can still be in they they loved ones of the teen just need to fill an application for them.

“The purpose of tYouth Grove Center piecehe youth grove is a memorial but also to educate teens about safe driving,” said Yolanda Calderon a representative for the Santa Clarita youth grove.

The whole idea of the youth grove as a good teaching tool to show the kids in the valley that there’s a problem and that you can die and there is a problem in this valley.

Alice Renolds parent who was part of the committee who started the youth grove. Renolds story of her two sons who died in a car accident who have their names at the youth grove. Renolds children were sitting in the backseat passengers in a car which had five teenagers in all from canyon high.

The driver was going 100 mph lost control; spun-out and hit the center divider after that the car was turned upside down and hit another vehicle. Renolds 15 year-old son wasn’t wearing a seat belt flew out of the car and hit the asphalt about 50 to 60 feet and had died instantly. Renolds 18 year-old son had his seatbelt on but the way that the backseat of the car had hit the other vehicle he was also killed instantly. The other teen in the backseat was also killed from the impact as well as the driver in the other car. The surviving teen was the one that was driving the car that had spun-out.

An average of nine teens ages 16-19 were killed every day from motor vehicle injuries. 2,739 drivers ages 15-20 were killed and an additional 228,000 were injured in crashes. A total of 4,054 teens between the ages of 13-19 died in car accidents. 81% of teens killed in car accidents were passengers. The risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16-19-year-olds than among any other age group. In fact, per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash.

The Santa Clarita Youth Grove is a grassroots effort supported by the City of Santa Clarita and the Blue Ribbon Task Force.  The Grove is dedicated to Santa Clarita youth from the age of 22 years old and younger who have lost their lives in traffic related incidents. “The Youth Grove provides an outlet for the community to reflect upon the tragic consequences of drinking and driving, and serves as a solemn reminder of the importance of being responsible behind the wheel,” commented Mayor Laurene Weste.  “Each year, the City and the Blue Ribbon Task Force host the Evening of Remembrance to honor the young men and women who lost their lives too soon, and inspires our community to practice safe, sober driving.”

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