Six Hours To Contact Loved Ones After A Fatal Accident
It took a tragedy to sparked an important change in Florida.
Christine Olson got a call to her Bradenton, Florida home the evening of December 7, 2005. Her son told her there had been an accident and she needed to go to Manatee Memorial Hospital. Christine’;s daughter, Tiffany, had been on a motorcycle with her boyfriend of nearly one year, Dustin Wilder. They rode his 2002 Kawasaki motorcycle to St. Petersburg to attend a bike meet.
Christine got in the car and prayed the entire time that her daughter was okay. When she arrived, Christine was told her daughter was not there. She and her son frantically called other areas hospitals and were shocked to find they would not release any information.
Christine says she “was in a state of panic” wondering if her 22-year-old daughter was crying out for her Mom.
The security guard at Manatee Memorial finally called the Florida Highway Patrol and at 1:30 a.m., Christine and her son met them in the parking lot of the hospital.
“When law enforcement approached me, he said, “I’;m sorry your daughter is gone.””
Where was she? They thought perhaps the medical examiners’; office, but they were closed. Christine was told to call in the morning.
The officer then handed Christine an evidence bag with Tiffany’;s watch, her broken earring, a toe ring and some lip gloss.
Something had to change, Christine thought. She waited six and a half hours to find out about her daughter. Christine later found out that according to the National Association of Emergency Medicine, it takes an average of six hours for a family member to be contacted in case of an emergency. Sometimes it takes days.
Christine finally found out what happened. About 7:00 p.m., a car traveling westbound hit Olson and Wilder who were traveling northbound along U.S. 19 in Palmetto.
Tiffany died immediately. She broke her neck when she was thrown 93 feet. Wilder died shortly after the accident. His parents also could not locate him and he died without seeing them one last time.
Christine then turned her daily mission into an effort to make a significant change in honor of Tiffany. She went to State Rep. Bill Galvano from Bradenton and together they pushed for emergency information to be placed in a registry attached to a person’;s driver’;s license.
The Emergency Contact Information System allows everyone to enter their information into a database that is accessible by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). The database is secure and used by most Florida law enforcement agencies.
You can enter your information through a link on Christine’;s web site by clicking on the Emergency Contact Information drawing of a vehicle, or directly to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
As of last year, more than one-half million Floridians had registered their name in the system. In the unfortunate case of an accident like Tiffany’;s, an officer can quickly find out who the next of kin is or who to contact in an emergency.
Galvano is trying to make the program national and has written to the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Mary Peters.
Christine has set up a web site called, toinformfamiliesfirst.com with pictures of her beautiful daughter whose life was extinguished in a moment.
All Floridians are urged to enter their information so someone does not have to repeat Christine’;s experience. No one plans for accidents and they happen in the blink of an eye.
“Time is crucial. There is no time to waste. No one should have to go through this,” Olson says.