The Florida Highway Patrol kicked off its "Click It or Ticket" seatbelt campaign Tuesday. Between now and Memorial Day, troopers will be targeting drivers and passengers who don't buckle up.
The message behind this awareness campaign came too late for a Washington County family. To those who didn't know her, 15-year-old Becky Baldry might be just another sad statistic on the dangers of not using seat belts, but to Becky's family and friends, she wastes everything.
"She's the happiest girl you've ever known in your whole life. She never said anything bad about anybody. She really looked forward to life," says Stacy Glover, a friend and cheer teammate.
The Vernon High School sophomore died after a crash last Friday morning. An 84-year-old man pulled out of this driveway and into the path of Becky's passenger side of the car.
The car flipped several times, throwing her out. Her older sister and younger brother were also in the car and are both recovering from their injuries. The older sister who was driving, was the only one wearing a seat belt.
"They always wear their seat belts, always, always, and the fact that they didn't, it was just, it was a mistake at the time," say her teammates, Stacy, Ranie and Jacque.
Sadly, Becky and her brother are only two of so many drivers who don't always wear their seat belts. Just this week, an FHP trooper counted 100 cars, 43 of those were carrying drivers or passengers who were not wearing seat belts.
Sgt. J.D. Johnson counted the cars in preparation for FHP's Click It or Ticket campaign promoting seat belts.
"And the simple fact is, the people that weren't wearing and became ejected out of the vehicle. We had one in Washington County. We had another one in Holmes County that killed two small children, and the simple fact is, if they would have been wearing their seatbelt, there would have been more likelihood of them surviving their crashes."
Like so many other troopers, Sgt. Johnson is hoping the lessons of Becky Baldry's death and other locals will finally stick so that we don't lose others who mean so much to so many.
Becky Baldry was buried Tuesday in Vernon. Her friends say they will remember her great spirit both as a cheerleader and a person.