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Bull Valley crash claims 2

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

Bull Valley crash claims 2

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
March 8, 2009

The Northwest Herald carried a front-page, top-right article this morning about Friday night's single-car crash in Bull Valley that claimed the lives of two young men who were students at MCC.

The 20-year-old driver of a 2000 Mazda Miata was westbound in the 6700 block of Crystal Springs Road, when his vehicle left the roadway, struck a tree (or trees) and overturned. The speed limit on Crystal Springs Road is 45MPH, and the crash occurred just beyond a right-hand, 15MPH curve west of Col. Holcomb Drive.

The curve there is very well marked. Headlights would have shone on the warning sign with its smaller cautionary 15MPH suggested speed limit through the curve, as well as on the right-curve warning signs posted on the south side of the roadway, facing westbound drivers.

The driver and his 19-year-old passenger both died at the scene. Investigation continues by the McHenry County Sheriff's Department Accident Investigation Team and the County Coroner's Office, according to the newspaper article. Any negative driving history should be reviewed. The newspaper did not mention toxicology testing, only that the young men had been at a fastfood restaurant to celebrate the MCC play in which they had participated earlier in the evening.

It will not surprise me to learn that excessive speed and failure to reduce speed through the curve will turn out to be primary reasons for this crash. The combination of a sports car, young male driver and late hour on a week-end night suggests this to me. The driver may or may not have been familiar with the road, but prudent driving would have been to obey both the regulatory speed limit sign and the curve warning recommended speed.

Results of the accident investigation should be released to the public, not because we're nosy, but because discussion of the cause of a single-car accident can help parents educate their children to be safer drivers and more cautious passengers.

On numerous occasions I have told my stepson, 20, who does not drive, that he is responsible for his life and health and that, if he is ever in a car with a driver who is operating the car unsafely, he is to demand that the driver stop and let him out. I will go to pick him up at any hour and from any location.

Now it may turn out that the car had traveled through the curve at a proper and safe speed and that some mechanical failure occurred that caused the vehicle to leave the road and overturn. Should that be the case, then this would be, in my opinion, an accident; if driver error resulted in the path of the car, then it was a crash and one that could have been prevented.

I invite and encourage every parent and friend to have regular conversations with young drivers about important of attentive and safe driving at all times. Urge them to drive as if their lives depend on good driving habits. They do!

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