Teen Choices Can Be Deadly

by Andrew Law
The Cambridge Times
April 20, 2001

Cara Johnston-Filler witnessed the death of her twin sister who died senselessly in a car crash. In 1994, a day after her 18th birthday, Cara Johnston-Filler watched her twin sister Mairin, die in a car accident.

On Thursday, Cara visited Galt Collegiate Institute and explained how Mairin was involved in an accident while driving with her new boyfriend in his brand new car. He lost control going 161 km/h in a 50 km/h zone.

“Car crashes are preventable,” Johnston-Filler said. “Mairin didn’t have to die.”

During two packed assemblies at the school’s Tassie Hall, Cara spoke on reckless driving -the number one killer of adolescents in Canada- and how choices we make affect us, our life and all those around us.

Reflecting on the crash, Cara said she was following in a vehicle behind her sister and found the car containing her sister bent at a 90 degree angle after hitting oncoming traffic. Mairin died instantly while her boyfriend escaped unhurt. Two seniors in the oncoming car both had lengthy hospital stays.

“I just want everybody to know that they have choices, and I’m living proof of somebody that made a bad choice,” Cara explained to students, some visibly upset.

Since the accident, Cara has been touring around the country giving presentations to high school students about the choices they have when driving. Throughout the dramatic assembly, Cara reminded the students of their options when they are in the car. “Plan ahead, removed yourself from a bad situation, lie to remove yourself from a bad situation or call your parents,” she said.

Cara and Mairin’s story is featured in an Insurance Corporation of British Columbia “speed kills” commercial which was played for all students attending the presentation. Johnston-Filler has visited every high school in British Columbia, some many time over, and is currently on a tour of Canada.

She speaks to an average of 2,000 a week. Galt Collegiate was her last stop in Ontario, but she is now heading to eastern Canada and the United States.

She speaks to anyone willing to listen and hopes to someday assist in making driver education a mandatory part of high school curriculum.