Published On: Sat, Feb 27th, 2016

Remembering the Lost, 20 Years Later

By: Stephanie Fonseca

20 years ago, Feb. 23 was a dark day for six families and their friends as they got news of a fatal crash that happened on Palmetto Park Road.

Going home from a night spent at the bowling alley, nine teens squeezed into a Honda Civic and speed their way down Palmetto at 90 mph. Little did they know that the joy ride was going to come to a horrific stop.

The 19-year-old teen, Nicholas Copertino who was driving the Honda Civic lost control of the vehicle and crashed into oncoming traffic sending the seven teens in the back seat flying out the rear window. The accident left five teens dead and left one teen, Maribel Farinas, 14, paralyzed. However, the driver, Copertino, the front passenger, David Grossman, 17, and Emily Slosberg, 14, survived the accident without suffering any long term injuries.

Fast forward 20 years and the families held a memorial service for the loved ones they lost. They laughed, they cried, and they talked about what they’re doing so that other families don’t get struck with the same tragedy.

At the memorial ceremony, parents still wrestle the question of how to live on after the tragedy.

Mother of Ryan Rashidian, 15, Kathy Hezlep, til this day asks “someone… a suggestion. How do I live on.”

Since the accident in 1996, Irv Slosberg, the father of twins who were involved in the accident, ran for state representative so that he could implement better laws that could prevent accidents like these from happening to other families. Irv Slosberg is still serving in the state House, and is to thank for the bill that was passed, which allows law enforcement to stop drivers who are not wearing their seat belts.  

“We finally got the seat belt bill done,” said Slosberg at the memorial. Slosberg continued, “and we reduce fatalities every year by 500 people, in the state of Florida.”

The accident stripped his twins, Dori, 14, and Emily Slosberg, now 34, apart. And in remembrance of her they created the Dori Slosberg Foundation, to promote traffic safety to teens.

“Buckle up. Leave your phone alone. Spread the word,” Shayna Satzman, who lost her five best friends in the accident, pleads.

The memorial ceremony was held, Tuesday, Feb. 23, at the Kabbalah Centre, on Palmetto Park Road, across from the crash site, where four crosses and a star of David memorial stand.

For more information about the Dori Slosberg Foundation and traffic safety, visit their website: http://dorisaveslives.org

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