April 2, 2003
At approximately 12:25pm Billy and 4 of his friends decided to go to lunch at
the mall. This was something the juniors and seniors were allowed to do.
They can leave the school campus during their lunch break and if they have a car
they can go wherever they want as long as they are back at 1:10. This gives them
approximately 40 minutes to have lunch and get back.
On this day the guys Billy usually went to lunch with couldn't go. Neither
could one of the guys who usually goes with the group Billy decided to go with,
leaving a seat open in that car. They all got in the car and decided to go to the mall.
Billy was in the middle of the back seat of his friend's 2002 Infinity. No one in the
back wore seat belts because none were available. They left the school grounds and
proceeded up to the highway to go to the mall.
On this particular road the speed limit is 55, they were going much faster than the
speed limit. His friend lost control of the car and went off the road
into the guard rail. They hit the guard rail going approximately 83 mph. After
hitting a tree they sailed through the air about 200 feet and hit another tree
where the car finally landed on it's trunk.
The back of the car was smashed right up to the window.
Billy's head hit the back window and he was immediately knocked out.
All this happened within about 10 minutes of them getting out of school.
At the same time this was happening I was on the phone trying to call Billy
to tell him that his name was in the newspaper listing him as starting 1st baseman
for his baseball team. I was wondering why he wasn't answering his phone.
Now I know why.
The driver as well as the front seat passenger had minor injuries . The boys on either
side of Billy were hurt. One with multiple injuries including a back injury.
Both Billy and one of the other boys had to be cut from the car.
Billy was airlifted to Westchester Medical, (the best place for him to be).
The other boy, Matt, broke his back & tore his ACL in his knee, as well as some
other injuries. He required several months of healing but is doing much better now.
I truly believe that Billy was in the arms of an angel that day. I know his brother Thomas
must have been looking out for him, and although he couldn't prevent what was happening,
I think he made sure Billy didn't suffer. By being knocked unconscious almost immediately,
Billy probably didn't know what was happening.
At least I hope he didn't know what was happening.
And I know that Thomas was there to meet him.
By May, myself and a large group of concerned parents asked the school board to change the school lunch policy.
We were met with some resistance from many parents who thought the kids should not be penalized
because of one accident. My view was that it was not a necessity for the kids to be able to DRIVE
off campus to go to lunch when we had a lunch program in the school as well as
many nice places to eat within walking distance of the school.
Why should any parent have to worry that their child is not safe while
they are in school. We have plenty of other times to be worried about our precious children.
It took some time but the school board voted to change the lunch policy. The juniors are no
longer allowed out for lunch and the seniors get the privilage of going off campus for lunch
but not in a car. All cars are parked on campus and are not to leave until the end of the
school day. Although this will not be a 100% foolproof policy,and it doesn't change anything
for me and my family, if it saves one family from
going through the hell that has become my world, the effort, during a very difficult time,
was well worth it.
Newspaper article links:
New York Daily News - Special Report: His Tragic Death Saved Six
The Song Playing is 'Angels In Heaven'