UPDATED with death of the mom:
The mom whose 12-year-old son was being taught to drive with the whole family on board has died. I wanted to update my blog post about this, because this story is so incredibly tragic. Imagine the pain this 12-year-old will live with. I'll post the latest story, about the mom's death, from our partner at The Palm Beach Post, on the jump. My original blog post is below.
I once considered giving my son a driving lesson before he reached the legal age of 15-and-a-half and had his driver's permit.
Rather than go through a lot of hypothetical disasters my son could have rained upon our
neighborhood with his driving, I just alert you to this story in this morning's newspaper. It, and the photo here, are from our partner, the Palm Beach Post.
Click here to read about the tragedy involving a 12-year-old driver.
The dad let the 12-year-old son take the wheel, with his mom, 1-year-old sister and six-year-old brother in the back seat. The kid drove straight into a canal in Loxahatchee. His mom and siblings are in the hospital. His dad is OK, and so is he.
I greatly sympathize. It's a tragedy I cannot wrap my brain around. The impact is yet to be known. The mom was trapped in the SUV for a time span described as "between 10 and 30 minutes."
Aside from something disastrous like that happening, there's another good reason not to give kids an advance lesson in driving. Why make your child familiar with driving at an age when he is so lacking in good judgment he just might take off in your car the next time he's really angry?
For another real-life horror story, consider this one that ran in our paper not long ago. A 13-year-old autistic boy stole the family car, drove to Fort Lauderdale airport and flew across the country. His dad said he'd never driven before, but if we all taught our early-teens to drive, this would be happening all the time.
If you think the 87-year-old drivers are bad, just consider adding 13-year-olds to the mix. It's chilling.
Of course I wasn't about to tell my son that "you don't need to learn how to drive yet. Then you just might steal our car the next time you're mad at us.'' All Creed would have heard was "Steal our car the next time you're mad at us.'' So I just stick with good ol' "That's illegal.''
(Riding with a 15-and-a-half-year-old isn't that great, either. I'm getting a window into the workings of a male teen's mind. Creed thinks he has to catch up with any drivers that are ahead of him, an ambition he described, wrongly, as "keeping pace with other drivers'' and being "a harmonious driver.'')
The lesson to pick up here, I think, is to lock up the car keys until your kid is legal age, and then immediately push the kid to get a permit so he or she can get as much practice as possible before going out there alone.
Woman dies week after driving lesson ends in canal crash
By George Bennett, The Palm Beach Post
12:44 PM EST, January 23, 2011
A West Palm Beach mother has died from injuries she sustained last week when her 12-year-old son plunged an SUV into a canal during a driving lesson in Loxahatchee.
Martha Camarillo, 31, died Saturday, according to a Palm Beach County Sheriff's report.
She and two of her children were critically injured when her son Ernesto Paulino, 12, drove the Isuzu Rodeo into a canal off Collecting Canal Road in Loxahatchee on the afternoon of Jan. 16. The boy had just switched seats with his father, Gregorio Paulino-Ortega, to learn how to drive, a sheriff's report said.
The father and son were in the front seat and escaped harm, sheriff's Sgt. John Churchill said. Martha Camarillo was in the back seat with two children, Ashley Paulino, 1, and Alonzo Paulino, 6. All three were taken to Palms West Hospital in Loxahatchee.
A sheriff's spokeswoman said the two young children remain in critical condition.
Deputies helped the father rescue the children, but it took rescuers between 10 and 30 minutes to extricate Camarillo, Churchill said.
The canal, on a rural dirt road, had no guard rail.
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