In her 14 years of service with the Adams County Emergency Medical Service, EMT Tina Knechtly has been witness to every parent’s nightmare – the loss of a child: The loss of hopes and dreams, the potential that will never be realized, the future forever changed in the mangled wreckage of automobiles.
When she sent her 17-year-old twins, Sara and Justin, off to school on Friday, Jan. 15, she’d given Sara the usual speech about “getting up earlier so you won’t always be running late.”
“She just rolled her eyes at me,” Tina remembered, a typical teenager.”
No more than five minutes after her children had hurriedly left the house, her phone rang.
“It was Justin, I could tell from the sound of his voice that something was very wrong.”
There had been an accident. The two teens had been speeding southbound on Route 136 in Sara’s red 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier. It was the same road they traveled every day to the Career and Technical Center in West Union. It was familiar, and Sara didn’t want to be late for school.
According to Ohio State Highway Patrolman, Donnie Edgington, “Sara was traveling at an excessive speed when she lost control in a left hand curve and traveled off the right side of the road, overturned and struck a tree.”
“Because I didn’t want to be a few minutes late to school,” Sara wrote on her Facebook page, “I took a curve too fast and lost control. The rest I don’t remember, but they tell me we went into woods, rolled, and some trees stopped us. If the trees hadn’t been there, a ledge was waiting for us.”
When first responders arrived at the scene, the teens’ mother was among them. “I didn’t know how bad the wreck was, I didn’t know what to expect, so I came as an EMT, then I saw the car, and whenever I’ve come upon a car in that condition, I know it can’t be good,” she told the Defender.
The West Union Life Squad transported both Sara and Justin to the Adams County Regional Medical Center.
Their injuries were not life-threatening, but for Sara, they were life-changing.
On her Facebook page the following day, reflecting upon the choices she’d made and the consequences of her actions, she wrote,
“Because I didn’t want to be a few minutes late for school my brother and I almost lost our lives. My parents came real close to spending the rest of their lives without their children. Because I didn’t want to be a few minutes late for school I could’ve killed my brother and would’ve been charged with murder. That’s hard and all, but jail is only for a few years, knowing that you killed your own flesh and blood over something so petty lasts a life time. Guys, Be a few minutes late!
I promise you it is not worth a car crash. If you have someone riding with you – you have a life in your car. Don’t take that life because you need to hurry. God was with us that day. Not only did he let us walk away but he let us walk away with only minor injuries. Bub (Justin) has a few scratches and bruises and I have a concussion and four staples in my head. The officers tell us we should not have walked away with our lives. Even though I don’t remember more than half of what happened, I have learned a very valuable lesson. Don’t give me a pity party because I don’t deserve one. If anything I need a slap in the head from all of you, LOL. Thank you to everyone who prayed for us and please take what I have written to heart because if it happens to you, you may not be so lucky.”