Cara Filler will always feel the loss of her identical twin sister.
Mairin Johnston was killed in a motor vehicle crash in 1994 because she made the wrong choice.
She choose to get into her boyfriend’s vehicle.
The sisters had gone to a mall to interview for a job. They did everything together.
When leaving the mall, Cara got into the family’s vehicle while Mairin got into her new boyfriends Nissan 300 and sped away.
Within three blocks, the boyfriend had hit 110 mph in a 30 mph zone. His brakes locked up and he lost control, sliding 200 feet before slamming into an oncoming car. Mairin’s door handle took a direct hit.
Cara caught up in time to watch her sister die at the scene while the boyfriend climbed out of the car with a broken elbow and missing a tooth. He was fined $150 for speeding and spent 15 days of a one-year sentence in jail.
It was the day after the twin’s 18th birthday. It caused her parents to split after 22 years of marriage and her younger sister to drop out of high school.
Car crashes are the number one cause of death for teenagers ages 15 to 20 and Filler wants to change this by sharing her life story with high school students.
Filler traveled from Portland, Oregon, this week to speak at Penta Career Center, Eastwood and North Baltimore high schools, and Wednesday to the Bowling Green community at the Performing Arts Center. Her Drive to Save Lives program was in Partnership with The Wood County Prevention Coalition.
“At the end of the day, only one thing could have saved my sister. Another choice,” she said.
On Aug. 29, her sister became a statistic. “Statistics don’t show any of us who make the right decision.”
She played a slide show of pictures of her and her sister to the song “Missing You,” with lyrics that include “Though I’m missing you, I’ll find a way to get through living without you. Cause you were my sister, my strength, and my pride.”
There were several choices that could have saved her sister’s life.
The first option is not getting in the car. If you think the driver is unsafe, then find another way there whether you walk, bike or crawl.
If you are already in the car, then find a way to get out. If the driver will not stop, use one of the three Ps — pee, puke and period.
The last choice is to call your parents for a ride. Be a parent your child can call, Filler stressed.
Even if you are embarrassed to ask, the last thing your parents want is to get a knock on the door from an officer telling them you are dead, she said. “All we want to do is never bury our kids.”
Her parents held Grounding Free Day, when the kids could tell them what they did during the year with no judgement and no punishment.
They also has a Blue Fish code, no-questions-asked if one of them needed a parent to pick them up.
“It gives teens permission to use you as an excuse when they’re in over their head.”
She also encouraged students in the audience to be a role model and stick their neck out for people they care about.
“None of you have to be a number on a page to change.”
Ask mom and dad to drive slower, have a designated person to text, remind people to buckle up. Stand up for yourself.
Lori Gault was brought to the forum by her 14-year-old daughter who had heard the presentation at Rossford. She called it a very expressive speech.
Sunshine Griffin said the program was eye-opening, especially with 14-year-old twins who think it’s cool when someone drives 100 mph.
She works with freshman football players and plans on sharing the information.
“I’m going to talk to them about this” and remind them they always have a choice, she said.