Friends and family of Jonathan Thornton, 18, and Maddie Echols, 16, grieved the teens’ deaths on Wednesday evening outside of Buckhorn High School, with hopes that other drivers are shaken enough by the couples’ fatal accident to habitually wear seatbelts.
The couple was in a 2008 Mitsubishi Eclipse, according to a report from State Troopers, driving on Gallion Road in Morgan County, when the car left the road and struck a tree.
The same report states that, “Thornton, who was not using a seat belt, was ejected and transported to an area hospital where he later died from his injuries.”
Echols died two days later, according to an updated report sent out on Sunday.
We’ve sorted through 2017 accident reports from State Troopers in Alabama’s northern counties to find that there have been at least 14 accidents involving someone who was not wearing a seatbelt since January 1st.
In those 14 accidents, there were 17 deaths.
According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, a typical driver in Alabama has a 54% probability that he/she will be involved in a crash involving injury or death.
An informational pamphlet from ADPH cites another statistic from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — For adult drivers, seat belts reduce the risk of death by 45%.
While ADPH also claims teen drivers pose more risk on the road than older drivers, the age range of the 17 victims we counted for this year was varied.
The youngest victim was 18, while the oldest was 66.
13 were male, while 4 (including Maddie Echols) were female.