Woman affected by reckless driver talks to students

TOWANDA – Cara Filler, a nationally recognized speaker, spoke to students at Towanda Area High School and to members of the Towanda, Athens and Canton SADD groups on Tuesday.

Her visit was sponsored by the school’s chapter of Students Against Destructive Decisions and Partners in Family and Community Development.

Filler had dreamed of being a marine biologist, but her path changed when, at 18, her twin sister, Mairin, was killed in a car crash.

For the past 18 years, she’s spoken at countless schools, encouraging people to make positive decisions, particularly behind the wheel of a car.

Her message, she said, has reached more than two million students.

Towanda SADD adviser Keith Brown said he first met Filler four years ago at a state conference and he, along with students and several community partners, worked for months to bring her to Towanda.

While sharing pictures and memories of her sister, Filler told students she never believed her life would be impacted by speeding or other risky driving behaviors.

“It happened to the most important person in my life, and I watched her die,” she said.

The two left a shopping mall at about the same time, Filler in her own vehicle and her sister as a passenger in her new boyfriend’s car.

The boyfriend was not impaired but was speeding at more than 110 mph in a 35-mph zone, Filler said. His car’s brakes locked up and the vehicle slid down a hill and struck another vehicle with its passenger side, resulting in Mairin’s fatal injuries.

Car crashes are the top killer of young people, Filler said.

“Behind every one of those statistics is a story that’s like this one,” she added.

Filler shared with students four choices to make when they are faced with a situation in which others are driving unsafely or making other risky decisions.

She told students to not accept rides with an impaired or risky driver and to get out of a car in which the driver is impaired or speeding.

She also suggested telling a fib for the sake of personal safety, or calling parents or a trusted adult for help.

Filler also made the students “pinky-promise” to include others and keep one another safe.

She offered other suggestions, including asking passengers to serve as a driver’s “designated texter” and to celebrate instances in which they speak up to protect others.

Brown said Filler’s appearance Tuesday was made possible by several businesses and individual supporters.