Submitted by: Cynthia Cooper
My father, John Sligting, was a leader and someone who would stop and help others in need. I can also remember him getting down on the floor to play with my son and attending family functions and birthday parties. My father made sure his kids grew up with various experiences such as fishing, camping and playing mini-golf. We always knew he would be there if we needed anything.
On June 13, 2007, a 17-year-old driver was out past the state’s legal 11 p.m. curfew. She had just dropped off her friend after a bonfire and answered a cell phone call from her mother while pulling into an intersection. My father was riding his motorcycle and honked his horn as he approached the intersection, as he always did when he noticed another vehicle was in it. Regardless of the honk, she continued through the intersection and my father hit her car. She lost control of her car and fell into the ditch. She then ran past my father to get her friend whom she had just dropped off. A driver in a passing Jeep stopped, called 911, and shined his lights on my father, who was laying on the curb.
Later, we confirmed neither the driver nor her mother, who somehow knew to come to the crash site, ever called 911. We saw the long tire skid on the road just before the intersection, which confirmed my father saw what was coming and tried to stop. No form of apology or remorse was expressed from the driver or her family after this tragedy.
Parents need to set rules for cell phone use in the car, and talk to their teen drivers to let them know that one bad choice can lead to a lifelong battle. Parents never should assume their teens won’t have a moment of misjudgement. There are even adults who think they are invincible and that it will not happen to them. Parents, just talk to your teens. It could save a life.
My father was a wonderful man and grandfather. His life was cut too short and I wish I could still share life milestones with him. The birth of my twin daughters, my son’s first tackle in football or an anniversary with my husband – I wish my father could have been there. I know he has seen all of these things since he is our guardian angel, but it would have been so nice to see his smile.