The night before my 21-year-old daughter Casey was killed I asked her if she was happy. She answered, “yes.” That was my last conversation with her. The last time I heard her speak, saw her smile and heard her call me “Daddy.”
Since the years following her death, I am comforted by that memory and her answer. But still, I struggle. I am alive and my child is dead. I have a future and she does not. I can’t watch, without filling with emotion, a dad dancing with his daughter at her wedding. I have questions that will never be answered. How could this happen to Casey, to our family? What was Casey thinking in the seconds before she was hit and in the minutes that she was conscious after being hit? The emergency responders told us that Casey’s last words were, “I want my mom.”
I used to say that Casey died, but now I say that Casey was killed. I used to describe it as an accident, but it wasn’t. A distracted driver killed Casey. He made a conscious decision to take his eyes off the road and as a result hit Casey while she was walking on a crosswalk in broad daylight. He never saw her. I know he did not intend to hit and kill Casey, but accidents are events that are unavoidable. This, like all the other distracted driving crashes, was entirely preventable.
Casey was a compassionate, highly personable extrovert with a great sense of humor. She loved people, animals and life. She was a loyal friend who always made an effort to keep in contact with all of her friends, including those from childhood. During her time as a student in Manhattan, Casey made time to volunteer at the West End Homeless Shelter, Momentum Soup Kitchen, and Animal Haven Shelter.
The Casey Feldman Fountation
The Casey Feldman Foundation was established to provide scholarships to those students who devote their time to work in the non-profit sector, protect animals, and raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. The Foundation provides grants to computer science students at colleges who exemplify these actions. Additionally, the Foundation has funded facility for dogs at a Philadelphia rehabilitation hospital.
End Distracted Driving is a campaign created by the Casey Feldman Foundation. End Distracted Driving develops science-based and interactive distracted driving presentations that have been given to more than 250,000 students and adults across the US and Canada. A PSA describing Casey’s story was made part of the USDOT Faces of Distracted Driving series and can be viewed here. The Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reviewed the End Distracted Driving campaign and found it to be one of most effective for teens.
In honor of all families who have lost a loved one to distracted driving, or have come dangerously close, End Distracted Driving seeks to passionately advocate, educate, and support efforts to eliminate distracted driving. For more information on scheduling presentations for schools or businesses go to http://enddd.org/enddd-org-end-distracted-driving-campaign
My name is Joel Feldman and I’m an attorney in Philadelphia and founder of the Casey Feldman Foundation. Following my daughter Casey’s death by a distracted driver, I established EndDD.org(End Distracted Driving) and have worked to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. I obtained my masters in counseling to help develop science based presentations for teens, parents and businesses. I’ve spoken with nearly 50,000 teens and adults in the last three years across the US and Canada. I can be reached at info@EndDD.org or on Twitter @BecauseofCasey or @End_dd
For more information on distracted driving, please visit this page.