First Posted: 9/2/2014
Young teenaged boys gathered around the restored dirt bike the late Jason Schilling used to ride. Any of them would love to win it. Schilling, 19, was killed in a car accident in Kunkle two years ago on Second Street between Harveys Lake and Dallas, not far from his house.
The bike has been lovingly restored by Chris Bittenbender, Schilling’s neighbor. After a raffle where the bike was won by Carson Ayers, of Tunkhannock, a student at Mansfield university, $3,000 more was added to the Jason Schilling Scholarship Fund at Dallas Senior High School.
“It’s a touching and heartfelt thing that Chris has done,” said Jim Schilling, Jason’s grief-stricken father, his eyes brimming with tears.
Schilling is not the only parent dealing with bereavement. Matthew Lomascolo, 24, died on Aug. 24 in a car accident on Kunkle Road. There have been many others over the years.
“It’s scary to see all these young kids wiping out,” says 14-year-old Jarrod Hislop, of Dallas. “It seems like they only talk about safety in the DARE program in the lower grades.”
Kyle Sweppenheiser, a junior volunteer at the Kunkle Fire Company, thinks the youth-accident syndrome has a lot of reasons. “The roads are bad here and the kids think they can drive now and go too fast and they don’t wear their seat belts,” he said.
Dallas Township did run seat belt checks in the high school parking last year, but even so the teenagers in this group think more should be done to encourage responsible driving habits among drivers of all age groups.
Jack Dodson, Kunkle Fire Chief, is unequivocal, placing most of the blame on the drivers.
“It’s the high rate of speed, inexperience and just negligence on the part of the drivers,” he said “But inexperience, bad roads and youth are excusable. Not wearing a seat belt is not excusable,” he lamented and said that in 50 percent of the responses his department makes, drivers are not wearing seat belts.
Many of these people would be alive today if they had been wearing their seat belts, he added.
Dallas Township police chief Bob Jolley says that the Dallas School District and the township’s newly-hired school resource officer Gina Kotowski will begin a more intensive safe-driving safety program next month in the school district especially targeting 16 and 17-year-olds about to get their driver’s licenses. The program will be taught at all grade levels.
Jolley says PA state seat belt laws are ineffectual and voluntary but reminds everyone that statistics are grim because 83 percent of people not wearing seat belts in a car accident and ejected will die.