By HARRY HUGGINS
Published: February 13, 2013
Last week, the Casey Feldman Foundation, named after a Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) student and former News Editor of The Observer who was killed by a distracted driver in 2009, released a new video titled “Just a Few Seconds” as part of their efforts to prevent distracted driving.
The Casey Feldman Foundation is headed by Feldman’s parents, Joel Feldman and Diane Anderson. Joel Feldman produced the newest video, one that deliberately tells both sides of the story of a distracted driving death.
“My goal is to change attitudes about distracted driving and hopefully change behaviours,” Feldman said. “I didn’t think previous videos with both stories would change behaviours, but I thought this one would resonate.”
The video tells the story of Kate McGuire, a student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute who struck and killed 61-year-old Howard Stein when she was 17. In the video, McGuire describes how she took her eyes off the road for “just a few seconds” to program her GPS when she veered into the shoulder and struck Stein.
Emily Stein, Howard’s 31-year-old daughter who was 6-months pregnant at the time of her father’s death, also speaks in the video about the effects the incident has had on her family.
The video premiered in Boston, Mass. in conjunction with Governor Deval Patrick’s declaration of Feb. 4 as Distracted Driving Awareness Day.
Since their daughter’s death, the Feldmans have worked through the Casey Feldman Foundation to spread awareness of the dangers of distracted driving, developing presentations and bringing speakers to tell their stories across the country. They have also funded a number of scholarships, including two at FCLC: a stipend to allow a communication and media studies student to afford to have an unpaid internship and one to allow The Observer to send an additional student to the Associated Collegiate Press’ annual National College Journalism Convention.
Before his daughter’s death, Feldman was a trial lawyer representing people badly injured in accidents or family members of those who were killed. In his practice, he often made videos to show the extent of the injury caused to his clients, videos he said prepared him well for making a video like “Just a Few Seconds.”
“I firmly believe that I’m in this position because some greater force wanted me to be,” Feldman said. “It’s more than coincidental that someone who has been representing people, making videos is in this position.”
Feldman was working on his master’s in grief counselling before Casey died because he said he still felt uncomfortable talking to people about their losses, but now he said he feels he can reach more people as an attorney.
“I think going from an observer of others grief, as a lawyer and as a community member, to a participant, I saw that it’s very difficult for society to support people who have suffered a loss,” Feldman said. “We are very uncomfortable with death and loss, and what people who have suffered a loss need is support, and that support is not forthcoming. Your world is shaken, it turns upside down and you don’t get the support you need and you’re treated differently because people don’t know what to say. So you’re isolated. I understand that now and I want to see if I can provide support to people who have suffered loss and normalize that for them.”
More information can be found at the End Distracted Driving campaign’s website, enddd.org, or the Casey Feldman Foundation’s website, caseyfeldmanfoundation.org.