Monthly Archives: November 2017

Discovery of AnnaLeah’s Book Collection Catalogued Online in LibraryThing

I can’t tell you how it felt to look online and find my daughter’s book collection all thoroughly catalogued. I knew that she had a LibraryThing account where she had kept track of her extensive set of books. But never until just a few moments ago had I looked it up.

Most of her books are boxed up and in storage because our current living situation did not have space for them. In a few weeks, we will be moving to a house where we will be able to organize her books on shelves like she would have wanted. So I had asked her brother and sister recently if I could somehow look her account up — thinking I would need a password or something. Lo and behold, they said that she was identifiable by looking up the author Rosemary Sutcliff. AnnaLeah, they said, owns one of the most extensive Rosemary Sutcliff collections in the world (at least among the LibraryThing membership).

Having a few moments to sit down tonight at the computer while I was actually thinking about it, I decided to try and find her account. She did not use her own name but I was able to sleuth it out, and I found her! I found my daughter.

I found the three books which she was reading when she last posted on her account — quite probably just before her death — knowing AnnaLeah. They were perhaps even with her in the car on that trip to Texas.

She read 47 books in 2013. I even found the last book she ever finished, or at least recorded, on May 2, 2013 — two days before our crash.  The Storm by Frederick Buechner

How many more would she have read in that year? How many would she have read in her lifetime? How many more books would she have added to her collection? What books might she have written? What literary worlds might she have created for others to enjoy?

Such a bittersweet treasure to have this part of her who is no more — who had so much more living to do.

AnnaLeah’s 30 Category Booklist

AnnaLeah’s History Reading List

AnnaLeah’s Book List for Danelle

And I’m quite sure, that one of AnnaLeah’s “friends” on Library Thing was her sister, Mary, whose collection was much smaller and not so thoroughly catalogued — but just as treasured, I know. A member since July 12, 2012.

Here are some books — probably from her sister AnnaLeah — which Mary received on her last birthday — August 6, 2012:

Of course, I love the photoshoot which AnnaLeah staged of Mary reading one of AnnaLeah’s books (which Mary had not actually read):



Holiday memories of AnnaLeah & Mary; Treasure the old for there will be no new.

To be honest, I hate the fact that I spend almost every waking hour figuring out ways to move the needle on comprehensive underride protection. I also hate the fact that AnnaLeah & Mary have no more chances to create new memories while the rest of us go on with our lives — getting older and making new memories without them.

I hate the fact that no one effectively took on the underride problem in time to let AnnaLeah & Mary live to see another day after their underride crash on May 4, 2013. And it keeps on happening to other families: The front of Padilla’s car was forced under the rear of the tractor-trailer. Man Killed in Thanksgiving Day Crash on Beltway in Virginia and this one 3-year-old girl dies from injuries in crash on I-15 near Moapa.

That is why I am a mom on a mission to make truck crashes more survivable. The only thing is. . . I can’t make it happen alone.

Here are some of my favorite holiday memories with AnnaLeah and Mary. . .

Mary Cranberry

Mary would be watching the Thanksgiving Day parade.

Tutus for the whole family

Advent 2012…Sleepover and

Broken Candy Canes

Mary Christmas Card…Karth Family Photo “Christmas Card” 2012 created by Mary

Christmas Memories with AnnaLeah  & Mary

Mary Christmas Angel…The glory of the Lord shone round about…

Mary, did you know?

Mary Christmas Angel–One: Jesus is the Heart of Christmas

Mary Christmas Angel–Two: Are we done yet?

Mary Christmas Angel–Three: O Holy Child of Bethlehem

Mary Christmas Angel–Four (Finale):

Christmas Letters from AnnaLeah & Mary

Christmas Letters From AnnaLeah & Mary, 1996:

Everything’s Different This Year

Christmas Letters From AnnaLeah & Mary, 1998:

This year & last year; Before & After:

Christmas Letters From AnnaLeah & Mary, 2001:

Christmas Letters From AnnaLeah & Mary, 2002:

Christmas Letters From AnnaLeah & Mary, 2003:

Herod’s Slaughtered Innocents:

Christmas Letters From AnnaLeah & Mary, 2004:

Christmas Letters From AnnaLeah & Mary, 2005

Notice: The Last Thing On The 2013 Calendar (as written by Mary)

“Though the Fig Tree Should Not Blossom”

Christmas Letters from AnnaLeah & Mary, 2005, cont.

Happy New Year! (Y2K) (AnnaLeah takes care of baby Mary)

Christmas Letters from AnnaLeah & Mary, 2007

Christmas Letters from AnnaLeah & Mary, 2008

Christmas Letters from AnnaLeah & Mary, 2008, continued

Christmas Letters From AnnaLeah & Mary, 2009:

Christmas Letters From AnnaLeah & Mary, 2009, continued

Christmas Letters From AnnaLeah & Mary, 2010

Christmas Letters From AnnaLeah & Mary, 2012:

MLK Holiday Observed:

The Power to Captivate & Comfort:

Roya Christine Sadigh, you will always be missed. June 19, 1978 – November 24, 2004

Roya Christine Sadigh, beloved daughter of Lois Durso, I never knew you but I know that you will always be missed.
June 19, 1978 – November 24, 2004
 “Not having her here is unbearable.”

Retrofitting the millions of trucks on the road could mean people like this man would live to see another day.

Early in the day, as travelers made their way to Thanksgiving celebrations, WUSA9 reported that yet one more person has died due to a defective truck design.

One person is dead after a car ran off the road and then crashed into the back off a tractor trailer early Thursday morning in the Franconia area. 1 dead in Va. after car runs off road, crashes into tractor trailer

Retrofitting the millions of trucks on the road could mean people like this man would live to see another day.

A man has died after a car crash on the Capital Beltway early Thanksgiving morning, police say.

Christopher S. Padilla, 30, of Alexandria, was killed when his 2013 Honda Civil crashed into the back of a parked tractor-trailer in Franconia, Virginia, early Thursday, Virginia State Police said. 

The driver of the tractor-trailer had mechanical trouble early Thursday and pulled onto the right shoulder of I-495 just south of Exit 173/Van Dorn Avenue, police said. 

He inspected his vehicle and was about to drive away when he felt the impact of the crash. 

The front of Padilla’s car was forced under the rear of the tractor-trailer. Man Killed in Thanksgiving Day Crash on Beltway in Virginia

However, if the decision is made to not retrofit, many people will die as a result.

Yet one more family will dread the holidays because Death By Underride has been left unchecked.

I just learned about an underride crash in Nevada on Sunday. The photo in the news report tells the sad and senseless story.

The semi driver began braking and made an improper left turn into the dirt center median with signage marked “No U-Turn” and “Authorized Vehicles Only.” The driver of the Kia then struck the trailer of the semi causing the Kia to be partially pinned under the trailer.

A 3-year-old girl who was injured in Sunday’s crash on northbound Interstate 15 near Moapa has died.

The girl was airlifted to Sunrise Pediatrics with critical injuries and succumbed to the injuries sustained in the crash.

An 11-year-old boy who also was injured was taken by ambulance to UMC Trauma with serious but nonlife-threatening injuries. 3-year-old girl dies from injuries in crash on I-15 near Moapa

Also reported here: 3-year-old Utahn girl dies in crash involving semi on I-15

Yet one more family will dread the holidays because Death By Underride has been left unchecked. When will we act to end these senseless tragedies?

Why Has the Truck Underride Problem Been Left Unchecked for Decades?

Truck underride is what frequently happens when a passenger vehicle collides with a large truck. Because the truck was unfortunately defectively designed to be above the level of the crush zone of the smaller vehicle, the passenger vehicle goes under the truck and the crashworthy safety features of the car are not able to work. Or, to put it another way, the truck enters the occupant space of the passenger vehicle — too often resulting in horrific death and debilitating injuries.

Hundreds of people die this way every year — the victims of senseless, preventable death by underride.  Yet, for decades, this problem has been left unchecked. Little has been done to preserve the occupant space and make truck crashes more survivable. Why is that?

Basically, the government has waited for the trucking industry to prove that it could do something to prevent these deaths. The trucking industry, for its part, has been waiting for the government to tell it whether or not, and how, to address this problem — before devoting R & D resources to it in order to come up with solutions. Meanwhile, the unsuspecting traveling public is left vulnerable and precious blood continues to be needlessly spilled on our roads.

Stalemate. Catch 22. Limbo. Standstill. Impasse.

The STOP Underrides! Bill will break this deadlock and get the ball rolling so that creative engineers can put effective underride protection on every truck — resulting in more truck crash survivors who can live to see another day.

This bill has been drafted by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. On December 12, 2017, Senator Gillibrand, Senator Rubio, and Congressman Steve Cohen will be introducing it in Congress.  They are all seeking Republican co-sponsors for this long-overdue, life-saving legislation.

Sign & Share the STOP Underrides! Bill Petition here: Congress, Act Now To End Deadly Truck Underride!.

Find out more about underride at our Underride Guards Page.

I am a truck crash survivor & mom (of two who died) on a mission to make truck crashes more survivable!

I am the survivor of a terrible truck crash. I am the mom of two daughters who did not survive. The difference? Their part of the car went under the truck; mine did not.

In the aftermath, I found out that the rear underride guard could have been made stronger to withstand the crash so that AnnaLeah and Mary might — like me — have been survivors of a terrible truck crash. I learned that, if effective underride protection was installed on trucks, we could save hundreds of people who die every year when a truck enters their occupant space. So now, I am a mom on a mission to make truck crashes more survivable.

View some of the thousands of tragic Underride Stories at the Interactive Underride Crash Map

How did it come about? In October 2012, Jerry and I moved to North Carolina with the three youngest of our nine children. Four of the nine were going to college in Texas. When they all came home for Christmas break, we got the news that our oldest daughter, Rebekah, had just gotten engaged. We planned a big trip to Texas in May for the celebration of a wedding, four college graduations, and two family birthdays (AnnaLeah turning 18 & Vanessa turning 4).

Mary baked a seven-layer engagement cake to surprise Rebekah when she arrived for the holiday. Rebekah asked me to sew her wedding dress and we shopped for a pattern and material. In the ensuing months, Mary (13) served as a model for her sister’s wedding dress, and AnnaLeah sewed a little bride’s dress for a surprise birthday present for Vanessa.

On May 4, 2013, we packed our Crown Vic and headed for Texas. But the trip did not go as planned and it turned out to be AnnaLeah’s and Mary’s last journey they would make on this earth. We came upon slowed traffic on I-20 in Georgia (from a fatal crash two miles ahead, two hours earlier). We slowed down, but a truck driver did not — hitting our car and sending it into a spin so that the car went backward into the tractor-trailer ahead of us. The rear underride guard failed to withstand the crash and the back of the car went under the trailer.

AnnaLeah and Mary were in the backseat. AnnaLeah died at the scene and Mary a few days later from her very serious injuries.

In the four years following that day, we have been working hard to turn tragedy into advocacy — including the drafting of the STOP Underrides! Bill soon to be introduced in the U.S. Congress to mandate the installation of technology to end these preventable tragedies.

In memory of Roya, AnnaLeah, and Mary (and countless others!), let’s pass comprehensive underride protection legislation in order to STOP every kind of Underride tragedy!

More memories of Roya, AnnaLeah, & Mary — our precious ones, gone too soon: The Naming of an Underride Bill; Out of the Mouths of Babes

Stay tuned to HOW YOU CAN HELP get this bill passed once it is introduced in the near future (within three weeks).

Sign & Share the STOP Underrides! Bill Petition here: Congress, Act Now To End Deadly Truck Underride!.

How many votes will be needed for the STOP Underrides! Bill to pass?

My daughter, Rebekah Karth Chojnacki, is an Instructor for a First-Year Experience class at the University of Texas at Arlington. Her students were required to do a community service project as part of the class. They chose to work on our underride prevention advocacy efforts.

First they gave us some feedback on our various social media sites. Then they divided up into three groups and did some research to determine just how many votes we would need to get in order to pass the STOP Underrides! Bill — especially those hard-to-get Republican votes.

Here are the results:

Making progress toward better underride protection is a team effort involving many, many people; and I am thankful for the students’ practical assistance.  I hadn’t looked at the numbers previously and, when Rebekah shared the results of their class project, I thought, “Maybe this won’t be so hard to win after all!”

But wait. . .  Republicans chair the Senate Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee and the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. Once the bill is introduced, we will definitely need these committees to take a lead and team up with us to end these preventable deaths  — because they play a key role in getting the bill to the floor for a vote.

Surely they don’t want people to die, do they?


Harvard Law Record: Preventing Death By Underride

Harvard Law Record, digital copy posted on November 14, 2017 in “Opinion”
Preventing Death by Underride

I met Ralph Nader in September 2016 at his Breaking Through Power Conference in DC. In June 2017, he asked me to write an Op-Ed on our efforts to bring about improved regulations for underride prevention.

Why would manufacturers & engineers not collaborate on underride research?

So, why would the various engineers & inventors & manufacturers choose to not collaborate? Seriously, I cannot think of any other reason than that they hope to get the competitive edge with their underride prevention technology. Make a higher profit. I’m willing to listen to other possible answers to my question.

Just think what that means. . . one more way that the value of human health and life is taking a back seat to economic gain.

But really, who is gaining and who is losing? I know that this is a simplistic look at the matter, but we shouldn’t forget the fact that Research & Development of technology to stop cars from going under trucks (or trucks from going inside cars) is not inexpensive. Crash testing is costly — the crash cars and crash trailers and crash dummies and cameras and analytical tools, not to mention the crash team.

So why on earth would we want multiple manufacturers and engineers to reinvent the wheel — wasting precious resources, time, money and ultimately human lives because of the delay?

Back in 2014, we were told by one manufacturer that, “we are not competitive about safety.” It is imprinted in my brain. Frankly, I’m not so sure I believe it, and the whole thing makes me very frustrated and angry and makes the grief all the more painful. Let’s pull our resources together and act like we truly want to solve this preventable problem.

Previous post on this: Grateful for commitment to Underride Prevention R & D, but is it enough?