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Mother of Kent Island crash victim kicks off seat belt campaign

May 24, 2016 Capital Gazette

Kent Island woman whose son was killed in a 2013 car crash joined state and federal highway safety officials Tuesday in Baltimore County to kick off the annual campaign to highlight seat belt laws.

Suzanne Elzey of Chester founded the CruiseSafe Foundation, a nonprofit driving safety organization after her son and three friends were killed. They were not wearing seat belts at the time of the crash, state officials said.

"As drivers and as passengers, we all have choices to make each and every time we get into a vehicle," Elzey said in a statement released by the Maryland Department of Transportation. "Whether you realize it or not, the choices you make at that time, will impact hundreds of people for the rest of their lives. So make safe, smart choices - buckle up, drive the speed limit and avoid distractions — as a driver or a passenger."

Tyler Elzey, 19, died on Cox Neck Road along with Corey Pessagno, 18, of Chester, Michael Ringenbach, 19, of Stevensville and Harrison Rhoades Smith, 18, of Chester. Pessagno was driving when their car traveled into the path of an oncoming vehicle. The other driver survived.

A few days later more than 2,000 people attended a vigil for the young men at Kent Island High School, where they had recently graduated.

The national Click It or Ticket media campaign aimed at increasing seat belt use across Maryland and the country. The campaign features a television spot, which was designed specifically to address the issue of unbelted back seat occupants. The spot, which was developed using federal highway safety funding, can be seen here. The campaign also features radio advertisements and digital media, as well as grass roots partnerships with local radio stations and Uber.

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