Loved ones honor victims of traffic crashes at State Capitol

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Yvonne and Jerry Nelson lost their 20-year-old son, Kyle, in 2014 after he was involved in a motor vehicle crash where two people were ejected from the vehicle.  

“It is the absolute worst fear, and it had come true. It’s just terrible, just terrible how our life could change in a blink of an eye,” Yvonne said.

She hopes by sharing the loss of her son, it helps other drivers be more careful when they get behind the wheel — and most importantly, make sure they’re always buckling up.  

“I just hope that one family will say to their kids, make sure you put your phone away and buckle up,” Yvonne said.  

“All families have been impacted in some way and I’m no exception. My niece died from a crash that involved a drunk driver, and she was 16 years old,” said Bill Panos, director of the North Dakota Department of Transportation.

The community gathered Friday at the North Dakota State Capital to remember the lives lost.

Families of loved ones filled chairs with flowers and shoes that were worn by those who died.  

“Our officer sees a lot of speeding-related violations, impaired driving violations, people who aren’t wearing proper restraints,” said Brandon Solberg, North Dakota Highway Patrol superintendent.

Panos said lives taken from car crashes are at 94 this year.

“Surprisingly, we’re tracking last year’s numbers,” Panos said.

Distracted driving, speeding and DUI’s are some of the common factors Panos said causes crashes, and their number one priority is to help save lives.

“What Vision Zero is about is reducing fatalities from those crashes and to not use your phone while you drive,” said Panos.  

A moment of silence was observed for 94 seconds — one second for every life lost this year.

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