Death of Mercedez Garcia, 17, remembered with safety lesson

Mother of 17yr old crash victim and authorities, Mercedes Message

IOWA, LA (KPLC) - Iowa Police Department along with Louisiana State Police conducted a safety demonstration for the students of Iowa High School. They showed graphic videos of what can happen from being distracted and not wearing a seatbelt.

Mercedez Garcia died Oct. 29 from injuries suffered in a car crash a day earlier. She and a friend were driving to her house after getting her hair done for Iowa High School's Senior Night.

According to Louisiana State Police, there were three contributing factors to Garcia's death: distracted driving, speed and not wearing a seatbelt.

Her mother, Yvette Prejean, says, "I was calling her and calling her to ask her where she was because it was getting late and I was getting very worried.  She kept saying she was only up the street but I learned that wasn't entirely true. She had gone to get her hair done instead of getting the flat iron she said she was going to get. I was just being like any other mother. I was worried so I kept asking her where she was. She was talking to me on the phone. I don't know if she was on the phone with other people that night. I just know that her friend told me that she put the phone down and it was soon after that they got into the accident".

Family members of Mercedez Garcia also took part in the demonstration by sitting in the stands. They all evoked emotion while watching the same video students were watching. One student said, "Having Mercedez's parents, sister, uncle and grandmother there is hard to watch".

The other passenger in the vehicle was Rodric Brown, 16. He not only survived the crash but went back to school that following Monday. He was wearing a seatbelt and credits that for his survival.

Sgt. James Anderson of the Louisiana State Police says that 15- to 20-year-olds are the hardest age group to reach when it comes to complying with seatbelt and phone laws.  In  Louisiana, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to use a phone while driving.