Editor’s note: This monthly column spotlights local youth who are making a difference in our community.
During recent years, the Eagle County community has acknowledged and endorsed a greater respect for seat belt safety. Efforts to save lives and increase seat belt usage include the Teen Seat Belt Challenge, an eight-week-long campaign led by The Central Mountains Regional Emergency Trauma Advisory Council and Devils Against Destructive Decisions, an Eagle Valley High School student group. Car accidents kill tens of thousands of U.S. citizens per year, and it is estimated by the National Highway Safety Patrol that safety belt usage could prevent about half of these deaths.
Gypsum Creek Middle School eighth-grader Kelsea Baldwin recognizes the importance of seat belt awareness as she appreciates each day since her horrific car accident. On May 9, Kelsea was involved in a life threatening accident with her father, Toby Baldwin, an Avon police officer. The two were driving home from Kelsea’s track meet when they were hit by another car along the highway, forcing them into the guard rail. Their vehicle flipped over a concrete barrier and continued to flip multiple times. In the end, Kelsea had a fractured wrist and a broken tibia; a plate and screws were surgically implanted in her broken leg.
Her father fractured four vertebrae in his neck and back and was unable to work. The Baldwins continue with regular visits with a physical therapist and Kelsea is still using crutches in order to walk.
Kelsea responded maturely to the accident. She was reported to have kept everyone calm, including her mother, immediately after the accident occurred.
“Kelsea was a total rock star, keeping everyone together — shattered leg and all,” said Bob Ticer, Avon’s chief of police.
Following the accident, Kelsea went to speak in front of her fellow classmates about her accident.
“I wanted them to hear what happened from me, instead of through the rumors,” she said.
‘Always wear a seat belt’
She said that even though she was sure they had heard it before many times, she wanted to impress upon them to always wear a seat belt.
“Even if you’re not the one messing around and being a careless driver, there are other people on the road that might not be aware of their surroundings,” Kelsea said.
Kelsea is a multi-pronged athlete, playing competitive soccer, running on the track team and playing basketball. In her spare time, Kelsea enjoys listening to music and drawing. In addition to seat belt safety promotion, Kelsea enjoys supporting tornado victims and providing dinner for local community members.
Kelsea enjoys giving back because of her faith and the impact it has on others. According to Kelsea, service is what brings people together, and makes for a safe and clean community.
Lucy Cummings is the marketing and special projects coordinator at the Eagle River Youth Coalition, a local nonprofit organization that offers and supports collaborative prevention programs and services. The Eagle River Youth Coalition tackles three main areas that affect the development of teens and adolescent youth, including substance abuse prevention, emotional wellness and mental health promotion, and academic achievement. In addition to supporting the health and well-being of local young people, the Eagle River Youth Coalition offers various levels of parenting education and trainings for community members. For more information, call 970-949-9250 or visit www.eagleyouth.org.