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14-Year-Old Bradenton Girl Killed in Crash

Posted on May 12, 2010

There is an incredibly sad story to report from Bradenton. The Florida Highway Patrol reports that a 14-year-old, Courtney Starling, was killed Sunday afternoon, May 2, in a Florida auto accident on I-75 that involved an SUV rollover. Courtney was riding in the back seat of a 1995 Ford Explorer with her mother in the front passenger seat, her step-father driving, and her step-sister in the rear seat next to her. Based on a www.bradenton.com report, everyone was wearing their seat belts. When the left rear tire of the SUV split at the tread line, the driver lost control and the vehicle spun around into the grassy median and overturned into the southbound lanes of the I-275 on-ramp with the Explorer coming to rest on its roof. Courtney was partially ejected and died from her injuries. Her step father and sister had minor injuries and Courtney’s mother, was airlifted to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg with serious injuries.

The school had to undergo grief counseling after the loss of Courtney who was known for her bright green clothing and even brighter personality. Our condolences go out to the family and friends of this much-loved young teen. Let’s keep her family members in our prayers.

Florida SUV Rollover Crash Statistics
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, SUV’s have the highest rollover rates of any kind of vehicle with more than 90 % of rollovers happening when the vehicle leaves the pavement and hits the dirt. SUVs are two-and-a-half times more likely than other vehicles to roll. More than 10,000 people died in rollovers accidents in the U.S. in 2002 reports NHTSA, largely because of the high center of gravity of sport utility vehicles. Rollover accidents account for nearly one-third of all deaths from passenger vehicle crashes.

Weak Roofs, Bad Tires
Often it is a weak roof and the collapse on the vehicle occupants that cause the most deadly injuries in Florida. The roof is supposed to provide a “survival space” around the vehicle occupant in case of a crash or a rollover. But often the roof strength is not adequate and crushes in on the vehicle occupants causing neck and traumatic brain injuries which are almost impossible to survive. In May 2009, after much delay, NHTSA finally upgraded the roof resistance standard. Vehicles weighing 6,000 pounds or less must be able to withstand a roof crush equal to three times the weight of the vehicle applied to the roof. Vehicles over 6,000 pounds only have to withstand 1.5 times the weight of the vehicle on the roof. A Florida accident attorney would want to investigate this crash further to determine if a defective product case could be made against the automaker.

Tire Wear
Tires can wear even when they are not being used. It is recommended you replace a tire every six years depending on the date. The age of the tires can be checked by looking at the tire ID number on the side of the tire. It begins with the letters DOT. The last four digits represent the week and year the tire was made. The heat of Florida is known to contribute to the aging of tires. This tragic SUV fatality accident highlights the inadequacies of all systems that are supposed to keep us safe, tires, roof, and vehicle stability. If an outdated tire was sold to the family and misrepresented to be new, the family may have an action against the tire dealer. Many questions remain to be answered. Again, our condolences to all who were involved.