Born on the 4th of March 1998, Nicole “Nikki” Catsouras tragically lost her life on October 31, 2006 in an auto crash after losing control of a Porsche 911 Carrera which belonged to her father. The well loved teenager who was on high speed lost control after she clipped a Honda Civic that she was attempting to pass on the right at over 100 miles per hour (160 km/h). The Porsche crossed the road’s broad median, which lacks a physical barrier on that segment, and crashed into an unmanned concrete toll booth near the Alton Parkway interchange. The Porsche was destroyed, and Catsouras was killed on impact. Toxicological tests revealed traces of cocaine in Catsouras’ body, but no alcohol.
According to News report, the Catsoura’s “incident was so shocking, the coroner wouldn’t allow individuals to identify her body”. On the date of the accident, October 31, 2006, Catsouras and her parents ate lunch together at the family home in Ladera Ranch. After lunch, her father, Christos Catsouras, left for work while her mother remained at home. Around 10 minutes later, her mother heard a door shut along with footsteps out the back door.
As she walked toward the garage, she was able to see her daughter reversing out of the driveway in her father’s Porsche 911 Carrera, a car she was not allowed to drive. Her mother called her father, who began driving around trying to find his daughter. While doing so, he called 9-1-1 for assistance, apparently minutes before the accident, and was put on hold. When he was taken off hold, the dispatcher informed him of the accident.
Controversy Over Catsoura’s Car Accident Photographs
According to Newsweek, the Catsouras “accident was so gruesome the coroner wouldn’t allow her parents to identify their daughter’s body”. However, photographs of the scene of Catsouras’ death were taken by California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers as part of standard fatal traffic collision procedures. These photographs were then forwarded to colleagues, and were leaked onto the Internet.
Two CHP employees, Aaron Reich and Thomas O’Donnell, admitted to releasing the photographs in violation of CHP policy. O’Donnell later stated in interviews that he only sent the photos to his own e-mail account for viewing at a later time, while Reich stated that he had forwarded the pictures to four other people. Catsouras’ parents soon discovered the photographs were posted online. The pictures gained much attention, including a fake MySpace tribute website that contained links to the photographs. People also anonymously e-mailed copies of the photos to the Catsouras family with misleading subject headers, in one case captioning the photo sent to the father with the words “Woohoo Daddy! Hey daddy, I’m still alive. “This led the Catsouras family to withdraw from Internet use and, concerned that their youngest daughter might be taunted with the photographs, to begin homeschooling her. This series of tragic and painful incident led her family to take legal action due to the distress caused.
Eventually, on January 30, 2012, the CHP reached a settlement with the Catsouras family, under which the family received around $2.37 million in damages. CHP spokeswoman Fran Clader commented: “No amount of money can compensate for the pain the Catsouras family has suffered. We have reached a resolution with the family to save substantial costs of continued litigation and a jury trial. It is our hope that with this legal issue resolved, the Catsouras family can receive some closure.
Each year, around 3,214 teens ages 15 to 19 are killed in car accidents in the US. Young drivers between 15- and 20-years-old account for around 6.4% (13.3 million) of total drivers on the road. 11% of the drivers involved in fatal crashes were between the ages of 15 and 20. The national average car insurance payment in the United States is around $1,548 per year or $130 per month. However, personal auto insurance rate depends on several factors, including coverage type, demographics, car specifics, driving habits, age, gender, and past infractions.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of six teenagers die from car accident injuries every single day. When a teen causes a serious vehicle crash, the outcome can be devastating for the families of everyone involved, particularly if injuries in teen car accidents are fatal.
How to prevent teen car accidents
Parents can help to play a pivotal role in helping their young drivers stay safe. Here are 5 ways they can help prevent teen car accidents:
- Make wearing a set belt mandatory
- Eliminate all existing and potential driving distractions
- Encourage/impress upon them no drunk driving
- Follow Graduated Driver Licensing law
- Obey the speed limits
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