It has been two months since the untimely death of David Waag and in this exclusive interview, his mother Aryn is speaking out about her concerns for teen drivers and her desire to make them more aware of what can happen in an instant.
David was just 17 when his life was cut short in August of this year on Wilkerson Road in Greene County just across the county line. He was a back seat passenger and had elected not to wear his seatbelt according to reports. It was an average Sunday for not only David and his friends, but for his mom and other members of his family. Four teens just hanging out together and having some fast food, and then heading over to the high school to pick up one of their cars before heading home.
Aryn told us that David loved to play sports including basketball and soccer. She fondly remembers how he never knew a stranger and was always one to show his generous side including dropping spare change in collection boxes for any cause at the cash register.
In the days leading up to his accident, David was getting ready for the school year and talking to his grandpa about his ideas for Homecoming and how he would use the new car for his date. He had his driver’s license and had signed a contract with his mom to be home by 11 pm and to wear his seat belt when he was driving this school year.
On that Sunday, David took a little extra time to say goodbye to his mom and kind of just hung on for a few extra minutes before heading out the door with his friends. “I always told him to be careful and make smart choices” said Aryn of her interaction with David before they left each other any day of the week. She told us that she had so many good memories of the days leading up to the accident which have helped her to navigate the grieving process.
Aryn is speaking out because she does not want any more families in our area to live through what she did when she got a call that Sunday from someone she knows who asked if she had spoken to David recently. She had been with her family and they were just hanging out and playing a board game as she recalls that phone call. She said the caller reported that an accident had occurred and the news was trending on social media. After trying to reach David, she elected to drive over to Wilkerson Road where the accident was reported to have happened. That was when she came upon the barricades and flagged down the Ohio State Patrol officer that was leaving the scene. She learned that David was in the car and had not survived the impact of the accident.
A couple of days went by before she could retrieve her son’s cell phone and she asked the OSP officers if she could see the car because she needed to know the facts and she needed that closure. It is a very difficult decision for a parent to make, but for Aryn, this was a way to see where David spent his last moments and to find some kind of answers.
They say time heals, but for Aryn there just wasn’t enough time before she learned from a call about another accident involving Greenon students came. There were no real details, but for Aryn, the memory of David’s accident was “even worse” but she had no idea why. She was moving on in the grieving process for a couple of weeks before the accident on Fowler Road, but it was that call that made her decide to take action.
Aryn took to social media to let the young people of the community know that she wants them to be safe and she does not want another mother, father or other members of a family to experience what she has endured over the last several weeks. “This mama can’t handle another candle light vigil” she said.
Her message to the teens in and around our area is to wear your seat belt, stop the distractions of using a cell phone or engaging the driver into interactions with backseat passengers and to remember that speed is a factor in accidents for both young and old alike.
In the coming weeks and months, Aryn has decided to take on the task of doing some research and reaching out to our State Representative to discuss the need for a back seat passenger seatbelt law. There is no proof that had David been wearing his seat belt that day, things would be different, but Aryn would like to see this law changed from front seat passengers only to include everyone in a vehicle.
She supports the proposed change of having teen drivers experience all four seasons with an experienced driver in the car prior to receiving their license. Although the streets were dry the day David was involved in the accident she acknowledges the need for teens to have more experience behind the wheel.
The most important thing that Aryn feels she can give back to the community and to teens around the area is to volunteer her time to be a guest speaker at any high school or community group that will invite her to come and talk to teens about the importance of safety when riding or driving a car.
She would also like to see high schools working with local first responders to bring back the mock accidents that were popular when she was in high school. Mothers Against Drunk Drivers promoted this type of event around prom night each year; however she believes that this type of visual is important for teens to witness at any time of the year.
Aryn stated that she is open and honest with friends of her son who still keep in touch with her. She does not hesitate to remind them about safety and if she over hears a conversation about teens not using seat belts, she steps up and reminds them how important they are.
Being proactive in making teens aware of the positives and negatives of the driving and riding experience has become a goal for this young mother. Her voice is the one that parents and teens will be hearing if she can get just one school or organization to welcome her.
She understands that teens of today are visual people who experience life through video games, YouTube and social media uploads. Aryn wants to bring them back to not only seeing what can happen but also hearing her story and understanding the importance of safe driving.
The Enon Eagle would like to thank Aryn for sharing her story and for making a difference as she plans and executes her crusade for teen safety on the road.