Tag Archives: bittersweet memories

From the Library of AnnaLeah Karth, 1995-2013: She hadn’t read them all yet; Death By #Underride

I wanted to mark AnnaLeah’s books so that they will always be a part of “her library”. Her sister Susanna picked out this bookplate & just finished putting one in each book. Now they are ready to donate.

Her 600-book collection. . . many of them from a used bookstore where she had volunteered. She hadn’t read them all yet. A precious life ended too soon.

Death By #Underride


AnnaLeah’s Very-Thorough 30-Category Booklist

AnnaLeah & Mary: With Their Sister’s Wedding Dress, Allison’s Angel Gowns Sewed A Dress For A Baby Who Never Made It Home

Allison’s Angel Gowns takes donated wedding dresses and creates outfits for babies who don’t go home from the hospital. I just received a message that Deb has taken the wedding dress which I sewed for Rebekah Karth Chojnacki in 2013 and made this beautiful little dress.

This is the message which the seamstress sent to me:

I’m sorry to be invading your FB page but I just wanted to thank you for allowing me to create angel gowns in honor of your beautiful daughters. I need to apologize for the delay, You see, your dress touched me in ways I never expected. I know the pain of losing adult children and I had a hard time getting past my own grief when I worked with your dress which was the very reason I jumped at the chance to sew for you. I think of you every time I sit at my machine. I wish you and your family peace Friend of the heart, Deb

Interactive Underride Crash Map Launched This Week

We launched an Interactive Underride Crash Story Map earlier this week. We have only just begun to add links for the thousands of underride tragedies which are too well remembered in the decades of neglect of this problem.  Many families may not even have realized that they lost their loved one because of preventable underride.

See more underride tragedies at Underride Crash Memorials and on our Interactive Underride Crash Map. To add more information on this story or to add other underride crashes to this map, send an email to underridemap@gmail.com; use this Interactive Underride Crash Map Crash Location Input Form.

Here is the map.

See more underride tragedies at Underride Crash Memorials and on our Interactive Underride Crash Map. To add more information on this story or to add other underride crashes to this map, send an email to underridemap@gmail.com; use this Interactive Underride Crash Map Crash Location Input Form.

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  https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.549573781791807.1073741924.464993830249803&type=1

Mary would be watching the Thanksgiving Day parade.  https://www.facebook.com/464993830249803/photos/a.465869083495611.1073741828.464993830249803/549586845123834/?type=1

Tutus for the whole family  https://www.facebook.com/464993830249803/photos/a.465869083495611.1073741828.464993830249803/551011044981414/?type=1

Advent 2012…Sleepover  https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.555655971183588.1073741930.464993830249803&type=1 and https://www.facebook.com/464993830249803/photos/a.555655971183588.1073741930.464993830249803/555656811183504/?type=1

Broken Candy Canes  https://www.facebook.com/464993830249803/photos/a.465869083495611.1073741828.464993830249803/556124954470023/?type=1

Mary Christmas Card…Karth Family Photo “Christmas Card” 2012 created by Mary  https://www.facebook.com/464993830249803/photos/a.465869083495611.1073741828.464993830249803/556151264467392/?type=1

Christmas Memories with AnnaLeah  & Mary  https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=559954657420386&id=464993830249803

Mary Christmas Angel…The glory of the Lord shone round about…  https://www.facebook.com/464993830249803/photos/a.465869083495611.1073741828.464993830249803/560141440735041/?type=1

Mary, did you know?  https://www.facebook.com/464993830249803/photos/a.465869083495611.1073741828.464993830249803/560630257352826/?type=1

Mary Christmas Angel–One: Jesus is the Heart of Christmas  https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=560713557344496&id=464993830249803

Mary Christmas Angel–Two: Are we done yet?  https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=560952533987265&id=464993830249803

Mary Christmas Angel–Three: O Holy Child of Bethlehem  https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=560953360653849&id=464993830249803

Mary Christmas Angel–Four (Finale): https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=560953753987143&id=464993830249803

Christmas Letters from AnnaLeah & Mary  https://www.facebook.com/464993830249803/photos/a.465869083495611.1073741828.464993830249803/562522363830282/?type=1

Christmas Letters From AnnaLeah & Mary, 1996:  https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=562705110478674&id=464993830249803

Everything’s Different This Year  https://www.facebook.com/464993830249803/photos/a.465869083495611.1073741828.464993830249803/563077863774732/?type=1

Christmas Letters From AnnaLeah & Mary, 1998:  https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=563082103774308&id=464993830249803

This year & last year; Before & After:  https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=563186590430526&id=464993830249803

Christmas Letters From AnnaLeah & Mary, 2001:  https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=563193017096550&id=464993830249803

Christmas Letters From AnnaLeah & Mary, 2002:    https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=563666620382523&id=464993830249803

Christmas Letters From AnnaLeah & Mary, 2003:        https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=564344183648100&id=464993830249803

Herod’s Slaughtered Innocents:  https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=564688433613675&id=464993830249803

Christmas Letters From AnnaLeah & Mary, 2004:      https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=564807693601749&id=464993830249803

Christmas Letters From AnnaLeah & Mary, 2005  https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=565873553495163&id=464993830249803

Notice: The Last Thing On The 2013 Calendar (as written by Mary)  https://www.facebook.com/464993830249803/photos/a.465869083495611.1073741828.464993830249803/565931740156011/?type=1

“Though the Fig Tree Should Not Blossom”  https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=565938886821963&id=464993830249803

Christmas Letters from AnnaLeah & Mary, 2005, cont.  https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=565870523495466&id=464993830249803

Happy New Year! (Y2K) (AnnaLeah takes care of baby Mary)  https://www.facebook.com/464993830249803/photos/a.465869083495611.1073741828.464993830249803/565950123487506/?type=1

Christmas Letters from AnnaLeah & Mary, 2007  https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=566452906770561&id=464993830249803

Christmas Letters from AnnaLeah & Mary, 2008  https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=566833013399217&id=464993830249803

Christmas Letters from AnnaLeah & Mary, 2008, continued  https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=566844333398085&id=464993830249803

Christmas Letters From AnnaLeah & Mary, 2009:  https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=566944503388068&id=464993830249803

Christmas Letters From AnnaLeah & Mary, 2009, continued  https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=566946103387908&id=464993830249803

Christmas Letters From AnnaLeah & Mary, 2010  https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=568828166533035&id=464993830249803

Christmas Letters From AnnaLeah & Mary, 2012:   https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=568835126532339&id=464993830249803

MLK Holiday Observed:  https://www.facebook.com/464993830249803/photos/a.465869083495611.1073741828.464993830249803/572826719466513/?type=1

The Power to Captivate & Comfort:  https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=566439636771888&id=464993830249803

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.”

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!.

Mary would have turned 18 today; but underride protection isn’t “cost-effective.”

Controversy surrounds the cost/benefit analysis undergone to determine whether a safety solution — proven to save lives — is cost effective. In other words, does the total cost to the industry required to implement the solution

divided by

the supposed number of lives saved (and by some formula the number of injuries prevented)

equal a $ figure

less than or equal to the Value of a Statistical Life (VSL) at that point in time [currently $9.6 million]?

If the cost is greater than that VSL, the safety countermeasure is deemed too costly and the rulemaking is ditched. In the case of underride protection, no mandate is thereafter issued to the industry requiring them to install equipment which could save lives.

Here is an example. Single Unit Trucks (SUTs) are not currently required to have rear underride guards which meet the same standard as for tractor-trailers. We petitioned NHTSA in May 2014 to require them. In response, NHTSA issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) in July 2015. Their preliminary regulatory cost benefit analysis came to this conclusion (p. 26):

Guidance from the U.S. Department of Transportation identifies $9.1 million as the value of a statistical life (VSL) to be used for Department of Transportation analyses assessing the benefits of preventing fatalities for the base year of 2012. Per this guidance, VSL in 2014 is $9.2 million.
While not directly comparable, the preliminary estimates for rear impact guards on SUTs
(minimum of $106.7 million per equivalent lives saved) is a strong indicator that these systems will not be cost effective (current VSL $9.2 million).

Yet, here is an April 2017 fatality in Florida from an underride crash involving a Single Unit TruckCrash kills 2 on I-75 in Bonita Springs

Apparently these lives were not worth saving.

Fairly soon after our crash, after a year or so of taking part in truck safety advocacy efforts, I became aware of the stranglehold which the cost/benefit analysis had on the likelihood of being able to get proven safety solutions actually required. That’s when I launched our Vision Zero Petition which got 20,000+ signatures. That’s when I also found that President Clinton’s Executive Order 12866 was what spelled out the specifications for that regulatory analysis for which the Office of Management & Budget had become the gatekeeper for safety regulations.

Many people made comments on the ANPRM for underride guards on Single Unit Trucks, as well as the NPRM for improved rear underride guards on tractor-trailers to the point that costs were overstated and benefits (saved lives) were understated. In fact, Lois Durso and I recently shared with many people on The Hill, as well as DOT, the proof that our two underride crashes were not even accurately listed as underride crashes with PCI (Passenger Compartment Intrusion) in the NHTSA FARS reports of truck crash fatalities. How many other underride deaths might also be inaccurately reported?

We are convinced that underride deaths are grossly undercounted. In fact, we would go so far as to say that every one of the 4,000 (on average) truck crash deaths each year should be considered an underride death unless otherwise proven (compared to the 200 to 600 annual deaths currently attributed to underride). After all, when a passenger vehicle collides with a large truck, it will be with some portion of that truck. If that part of the truck does not have any/adequate underride protection, then some degree of underride is, of course, likely to occur — which means that the truck is likely to intrude into the passenger occupant space. PCI then occurs with death and/or catastrophic injuries.

It is not necessarily the truck crash per se that causes the horrific deaths and injuries but rather the underride of the truck into the passenger occupant space. But this is not the current thinking in FARS data collection and regulatory analysis.

But even if we found a better way to report these deaths and every single one was included in the count, could someone find a loophole in the formula and still declare that comprehensive underride protection was not cost-effective and these lives were not worth saving?

When we were in DC a few weeks ago and met with DOT, I had a glimmer of hope because we were told that there had been recent discussions of the fact that the achievement of Zero Deaths in the airline industry was in stark contrast to the 35,000 annual deaths on the roadways. There was apparently realization that something had to be changed in how DOT is addressing this major public health problem — including the consideration of studying “near misses.” After all, DOT has publicly stated that their strategic plan is to move Toward Zero Deaths. I say, Let’s hold them to it!

Might we see a shift away from cost/benefit analysis that devalues human life to a cost-effectiveness approach that considers what is the most effective way (with the least cost) to save every life possible? What would it take to bring that about? Would President Trump be willing to sign an Executive Order authorizing Vision Zero Rulemaking?

If our truck crash had been less complicated — if I had rear-ended the tractor-trailer ahead of us instead of another truck hitting us and causing us to go backward into the tractor-trailer ahead of us — I would not be a truck crash survivor. I would have experienced Death by Underride and, quite likely — being in the back seat — AnnaLeah and Mary would have survived.

Mary would have lived to celebrate her 18th birthday today. She would have become an adult. She would have had the chance to live out her dreams and hopes. She would have continued to fill the world with her joie de vivre.

That is why I am unwilling to compromise and why I will continue to insist on underride protection that is comprehensive and effective to the fullest extent technologically possible in concert with the crashworthiness of cars. If that had been so on May 4, 2013, then AnnaLeah and I, along with our whole family, would have been able to wish Mary a very happy 18th birthday.


In Memory of loved ones who died in Wars in this country, including over 3.5 million in “Car Safety Wars”

This Memorial Day, I want us to remember the countless loved ones from this country who have died in wars — including the Car Safety Wars.

Review of Car Safety Wars: One Hundred Years of Technology, Politics, and Death

From that review: “Lemov reports that more than 3.5 million Americans have been killed and more than 300 million injured in motor vehicle accidents.” “More than all the combat deaths suffered in all our wars” (President Lyndon Johnson).

Remembering AnnaLeah & Mary Karth and their grandpa, James Waldron, a Navy Seabee in WWII, at Highland View Cemetery

AnnaLeah, Colorful & Insightful Word-Weaver

My daughter-in-law posted the question on Facebook today, “What books do you think all kids should read?” That made me think, of course, about the Book Reading Lists which AnnaLeah had created. Incomplete and unfinished.

She had a 600-book collection herself  — mostly used — and would have acquired more, I’m sure. She loved to give books as gifts to her niece and nephew and read to them often.

Here are some of her lists:

The Braswell Memorial Library in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, where we were living when the crash occurred, donated a book in the girls’ names. AnnaLeah , a booklover, would have appreciated that gesture.

And here is AnnaLeah’s Statement of Faith, which she wrote when she was 12:

Happy Birthday, AnnaLeah!