Ten years ago today, the world lost a vibrant, intelligent, and compassionate young woman as a result of a senseless and preventable crash. Twenty-one-year-old Casey Feldman was struck and killed by a distracted driver as she crossed the street in an intersection with a crosswalk and four-way stop signs. The driver was reaching for something and claims he never saw her.
The Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation, which her parents, Joel Feldman and Dianne Anderson, founded in her memory, writes that Casey was a kind and compassionate person with a great sense of humor. A senior at Fordham University, Casey majored in communication and media studies. She joined The Observer at Fordham and had her first news bylines by her freshman year. She was assistant news editor as a sophomore and news editor as a junior. “Casey was an enormously talented, endlessly curious and deeply ethical young reporter,” said Elizabeth Stone, a journalism professor at Fordham. “[Casey] was one of “my most promising students. Smart and dogged, whimsical and kind, she was going places.”
Casey won a variety of awards that reflected her interests and talents as a student, actress, accomplished equestrian, and journalist.
The loss of Casey in 2009 devastated her family, friends, peers, and the community — all because a man took his eyes off the road and his hands off the wheel for just a moment.
The same year Casey died, about 3,200 other people were killed and nearly 400,000 were injured by distracted driving crashes. Tragically, those numbers have remained steady year after year.
Following Casey’s death, Joel and Dianne established End Distracted Driving (EndDD.org), a project of the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation. Working with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a variety of experts, EndDD created a first-of-its-kind, science-based distracted driving presentation. The organization amassed a network of 500 speakers — the largest in the country — to bring the presentation to schools, workplaces, and communities.
“I was deathly afraid that my daughter would be forgotten,” Joel told WHYY earlier this year. “She didn’t marry, she didn’t have kids, she didn’t have a career, so I wanted do something to remember her.”
Since Casey’s death, EndDD volunteers have spoken with about 440,000 students. They expect to reach the 500,000th student next spring. EndDD has also engaged schools and communities in other ways by partnering with other organizations like Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) on a variety of projects. Earlier this year, they announced the winners of the third-annual national video and meme competition. Ongoing updates to the presentation continually reinforce the safe driving message. The latest project is piloting elementary school lesson plans developed in collaboration with nationally-recognized educational curricula developers, videographers, animators, psychologists, public health experts, and teachers. The goal is to create a generation of drivers who will view distracted driving just like drunk driving — socially unacceptable.
“I can’t bring my daughter back, but I can talk to kids,” Joel told WHYY. “I’m very, very fortunate talking to some wonderful kids across the country, and it’s the young who are going to change how we’re going to drive.”
A West Point graduate where he served as captain and military aviator, John Bair continues his commitment to our country through his efforts within the settlement planning industry. He has represented families of victims lost in the Flight 3407 crash, offered pro bono services to the families of 9/11 victims and drafted the first consumer protection bill for plaintiffs (H.R. 3699).