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The Sanpete Messenger

Mother shares story during zero fatalities assembly

Connie Hatch will never forget losing herdaughters Stacy Lunn Gahley (top) and Trina Gahley (bottom) in a tragic accident nearly 16 years ago.
Mother shares story during zero fatalities assembly

 

 

Linda Peterson

Staff writer

2-16-2017

 

 

 

 

MT. PLEASANT—Connie Hatch of Mt. Pleasant has lived every parent’s nightmare—that of losing children.

On Feb. 23, 2001, Hatch lost two children, her daughters Stacy and Trina, in a tragic car accident.

Hatch had not spoken publicly about that day since the girls’ funeral until she shared her story at a Zero Fatalities assembly at North Sanpete High School last Friday, Feb. 10.

That fateful February morning in 2001, Stacy, 16 and Trina, 14, were rushing around late for school.

“They always wore their seatbelts, but that day, probably because they were in a hurry, they didn’t,” Hatch said.

According to the driver of the car behind them, on the way to school their car, driven by Stacy, drifted across the yellow line and then abruptly cut back.

At that time the driver of an oncoming truck decided to pass the car in its own lane which resulted in a head-on collision. Both girls were killed instantly.

The UHP later told Hatch that if her girls had been wearing their seatbelts, both would have survived the accident.

On Friday, as Hatch spoke to students the same age as her girls were back in 2001, her message was clear: “Every time, wear your seatbelt. It takes just two seconds, but it could save your life. We just get so casual about it out here living in a rural area, but wearing a seatbelt can make all the difference,” she said.

Hatch knew going into it that Friday’s assembly would be difficult for her, “but I can do hard things,” she said.

There isn’t a day that goes by that Hatch says she doesn’t think of her girls and the lives they could have had. Along with the memories, each time she gets in her car and starts to back out, there’s a voice in her head that says, “Every time,”’ she said.

It’s a message she hopes will stay with those who heard her at the assembly, a message that may save some parent from living through the nightmare she has endured for the last 16 years.

Hatch was joined at the assembly by Kylie Christensen, a Zero Fatalities Utah outreach coordinator who discussed what are called the five deadly behaviors of driving: distracted driving, drowsy driving, impaired driving, aggressive driving and not being buckled up.

Christensen said while she focused on new drivers at the assembly, what she shared was also “a great reminder for individuals who have been driving some time now, everybody needs a reminder to buckle up, drive alert, or put their phone down.”

Sterling Scholar Seth Swapp organized the assembly. Seth has family that works at the Sanpete County Hospital where, he said, it is known that Sanpete County has a really bad reputation regarding the people who use their seat belts. He hopes the information shared at the assembly will save a couple of people from injury or death.