Sign Dedicated to Teen Killed in Accident

By: Tamara Evans Email
By: Tamara Evans Email

Nearly a year after Governor Fletcher signed the Primary Seatbelt Law into place, two of the law's biggest advocates help dedicate a Buckle Up sign in memory of their daughter.

Ben and Brenda Matlock lost their daughter Jessica when she was thrown from her car and killed in summer of 2005. Jessica was not wearing a seatbelt.

On Thursday, April 5, 2007, members of the Department of Transportation, law enforcement, the Matlock's and students at Warren Central High School unveiled a sign reminding students to buckle-up in honor of Jessica.

"Her parents, Brenda and Ben Matlock, have been very instrumental in spreading the word around this community as to why you should wear a seatbelt. They were standing beside the Governor when he signed the legislation into law and we just wanted to have this event today," Transportation Cabinet employee, Keirsten Jaggers said.

Following the sign presentation the Matlock's and Kentucky State Police teamed up with Warren Central's JROTC to give the students at the high school another presentation ... one on the importance of wearing a seatbelt.

"The biggest killer of Americans between the ages of six to twenty-seven is the automobile," Warren Central Junior, Daniel Lawson said.

Nationwide, nearly 4,000 teens a year are killed in car crashes. Kentucky has one of the highest crash rates.

"We're doing this to prevent accidents in Bowling Green and in Kentucky. It makes people be more safe and to wear their seatbelt," Lawson said.

Every high school parent's worst nightmare is that their teen could be in a bad car crash. For Ben and Brenda Matlock it was all too real

"June 20th of 2005 was the worst day of my life. I lost my beautiful girl," Ben Matlock said.

Ever since their daughter was killed in a car crash it has been the Matlock's mission to get young drivers to buckle up.

"In the case of Jessica, a seatbelt would've saved her life and she'd be here today and I feel like she's working through us to get this message across to her classmates," Brenda Matlock said.

"She always told me ... Daddy, buckle up," Ben Matlock said.

Ben Matlock always told his daughter that he didn't need a seatbelt. Now that has changed.

"As parents, we need to tell our children to buckle up everytime they leave the house because you don't want some policeman coming up to your door saying you lost your child and they aren't coming home anymore," Ben Matlock said and it's just as hard for the officers to deliver that message.

"It's an ugly, terrible thing we have to do when we walk in your living room and tell your parents you're not coming home. Don't put me in that spot," Kentucky State Police Sergeant John Clark urged students.

The Matlock's are just hoping this message is getting across.

"When we were going through those first few months, we didn't know if we wanted to go on. She meant the world to us, but we kept pushing in hope and we had to have a reason and our reason is to help save lives," Brenda Matlock said.

Warren Central's JROTC put on the presentation as part of Safe Driving Week at the school.

They also had a wrecked car set up in the student parking lot to remind students to buckle up and drive safely.

To see two copies of the video presentations the students viewed put on the JROTC students, click here and click here.

And to learn more about the Primary Seatbelt Law, click here.


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