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Crash victim helps students by sharing tragic experience

John Westhaver survived a horrible crash nearly 20 years ago and will speak to local students about making safe driving choices.
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April 11, 2013 - 5:34 PM

The survivor of a horrible car crash will bring his experience to secondary school students in Kamloops with the intention of helping them see their way to making good choices when driving on graduation night and beyond.

The presentations begin later this month as ICBC road safety speaker John Westhaver tours Southern Interior schools.

Westhaver's crash happened 20 years ago and resulted in many surgeries because of burns he sustained. Three of his friends did not survive. He says he now talks to students about safe driving because he knows what it is like to wake up horribly injured and he wants them to think about road safety as a driver and a passenger before it is too late.

“These crashes don't discriminate,” he says, “and they do have lasting repercussions and can affect the rest of your life.”

According to ICBC an average 240 youth are injured and three killed between April and June every year in the Southern Interior

“It’s important that we do what we can to help B.C. youth understand the devastating impact one wrong decision could have on their lives and their families,” said Mary Polak, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “The reality is that car crashes are the number one preventable cause of death for youth in B.C. ICBC’s road safety speakers help strengthen young people’s decision-making skills and teach them to think twice before taking risks behind the wheel.”

“Our road safety speaker program is one way that we reach out to students to motivate them to make smart, safe driving choices,” said John Dickinson, ICBC’s director of road safety. “Our road safety speakers connect with students through their personal, heartbreaking stories and help them realize the tragic and life-changing consequences of taking risks while driving.”

For the past 16 years, ICBC road safety speakers have been sharing their stories with more than 50,000 B.C. high school students every year.

The speaking tour will start in Revelstoke on April 22 and ends in Sparwood three weeks later, with stops in more than 20 other locations including Merritt, Salmon Arm, Sicamous, Barriere, Clearwater, Kelowna and Osoyoos. The Kamloops stops will include Twin Rivers Secondary, Beattie School of the Arts and Norkam Secondary.

School District 73 Kamloops/Thompson will see graduation ceremonies take place between May 24 and June 11.

  • On average, 12 youth are killed and 1,100 are injured in crashes every year in the Southern Interior.
  • On average, 44 youth are killed and 7,300 are injured in crashes every year in B.C.
  • Twenty-five per cent of speeding drivers and 19 per cent of impaired drivers in B.C. involved in crashes, resulting injuries or fatalities, were between the ages of 16 and 21.

To contact a reporter for this story, email or call (250) 819-3723

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