Latest crash part of deadly trend for teens

Victim's father says 'no one to blame'

NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. - Brian Hendrickson knows he is lucky to be alive.  The 18-year-old broke his neck after a car crash last month.

"That's why I have this dandy thing on," said Brian, pointing to the halo he'll be wearing for another month.

He says wet roads played a part in the accident that launched him out through an open window.

"My car was completely mangled.  So it was pretty bad," said Hendrickson.

Brian's crash is one of thousands each year involving teen drivers.  But summertime seems to be the worst time.  AAA says the top 10 deadliest days for teen driving happen when kids are out of school.

That was the case for two girls killed Tuesday in New Port Richey.

"There's no one to blame for this.  No texting, she was smarter than that.  It was just an accident in bad weather," said Tim Little, whose daughter, Courtney, 17, died along with her friend, Kimberlee Markou, 16.

It was raining on Moon Lake Road around the time of the crash and the Florida Highway Patrol says knowing how to handle driving on slick roads is crucial. But many teens don't have the experience.

"Reducing speed is critical.  It increases your ability to react, to be able to stop and control the car, in the event of an emergency.  Decrease speed, increase following distance, headlights on," said Sgt. Steve Gaskins with the Florida Highway Patrol.

"I'm terrified every time she gets in the car," said Kendra Abeledo of Trinity.

Abeledo has reason to be.  Her daughter, Brittany, was supposed to be driving with Brian the night he crashed.  And the teen says she's seen several friends die in wrecks.

That's why she proudly drives, as her mom calls it, "like an old lady."

"Especially when it's raining," said Brittany.

AAA suggests keeping teens from joy riding, restricting them to essential trips only.  They also say it's a good idea to limit the number of passengers who ride with them.

Another frightening fact from AAA, they say the risk of fatal crash involving teens doubles at night.

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