Car entrapment is a serious threat on the road. Whether it’s due to flood, fire, or car accident, seconds count when it comes to escaping your vehicle. For Donna Uzzi, the tragic death of her son, Anthony, in a car accident that flipped the vehicle he was in into a canal was a wake-up call to the threat of getting trapped in a car. Wanting to honor her son and prevent another parent from ever experiencing her same pain, Donna started Think First For Safety Corp. She hopes to use Think First for Safety Corp. to spread awareness about car entrapment and driver safety. Donna promotes the resqme tool as a necessary aspect of driver preparation and education.
Donna Remembers Anthony
Donna remembers Anthony with a mother’s fondness. Of him, she says, “Anthony was a very outgoing young boy with a large circle of friends. When he wasn’t at school, he was with his friends at the beach or playing sports at the park. Growing up he played all sorts of sports, but it was basketball that he lived for. He would always be at the park playing basketball. Anthony was even practicing with the Coral Springs Travel Basketball Team hoping he would get on. He knew the coach for many years and he was training him. Unfortunately, Anthony passed before he could be told that he made the team, the team agreed to put him on anyway, gave him the No. 1 and played with one less player. The team won State Champion for his division. When they won it was wonderful and very emotional for all of us.”
The Night of the Accident
As Donna Uzzi recalls, “The day started out as a typical Saturday.” It was Homecoming night in Coral Springs, Florida. Donna’s son, Anthony Almonte, was out with friends celebrating. That fall day in 2009, Donna remembers that she, “went about [her] errands and Anthony stayed in all day. It was homecoming and due to the cost he wasn’t able to go. Anthony told me that him and his friends were just going to hang out with other kids that weren’t going to homecoming. I didn’t worry as he was turning 17, I wasnt having curfew problems and he was with good kids.”
From what was explained to Donna by Anthony’s friends, “they were at a friend’s house with another group of friends they knew from school. The driver decided to go for a quick ride to pick up another friend. [She] was told that when he came back he planned on driving Anthony and his other two friends home. Anthony asked if he could go along with them and proceeded to get in the car with the other three boys.”
While on the main road, the boys were involved in a car accident and hit a guard rail causing the posts to collapse and act as a ramp, which in turn, helped flip the car into the water of the canal. The car wound up upside down in the water. Only one of the boys was able to get out. The other three, including Anthony, were not saved in time. Anthony did not sustain serious injuries from the crash, but his death was a result of being submerged underwater inside the vehicle.
Before Anthony’s tragic accident, car entrapment wasn’t a major cause of concern for Donna. “Before this accident, it never occurred to me that it would be so difficult to get out of your car when it’s under water. I am amazed how little people think of the possibility when it happens so often. Now I notice so many canals that are not properly protected by guard rails.” According to witness reports regarding the accident, “They ended up having to break the windows. I know they ended up having to call for knives to cut the seatbelts. I know they popped the tires as well…they had to roll the car. I’m not sure exactly why they had to roll the car but I know they had to roll the car while it was in the water to get it to be right side up. He was speaking about the police rolling the car. What he didn’t know is that they had to roll the car to get my son out.”
Donna and the resqme tool
Donna believes the resqme tool can help with her cause. “I like and promote the resqme key chain tool for various reasons:
1) It’s affordable
2) It’s easily accessible anywhere when it’s on your key chain
3) If everyone in the car has one on their keychain, everyone is prepared. If only the driver has one, every one else can easily find the steering wheel for the keys. They don’t have to look under seats or in the glove compartment and waste precious time.
4) Having a resqme on your keychain is a constant reminder of what happened to Anthony and therefore I hope a constant reminder of what to do to protect yourself.”
Think First for Safety Corp.
When you ask Donna Uzzi how Anthony’s death has changed her, she responds, “Too many ways to list, however, I do have faith in God and I believe that everything happens for a reason. I feel this would not have happened to my son if there wasn’t something we all didn’t need to learn.” Donna wanted to do more than just remember Anthony. She wanted to help educate her community. Donna started Think First for Safety Corp to get involved with driver education, safety events, and teen driving safety awareness. “My job now is to bring awareness that what happened to Anthony, could happen to anyone. We all need to THINK, Together we can Help Inspire Necessary Knowledge. Educate ourselves and save our loved ones. It is now my personal mission to make sure everyone has a resqme and knows what to do if they should ever find themselves trapped in a car.”
You can get a resqme tool through Think First for Safety here.