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South Coast Family Tells Story Of Tragic Bicycle Accident To Try To Increase Helmet Use


It’s a pain no family should have to endure, and one family is trying to prevent it from happening to others.

Valeria and Alex Johnson of Camarillo have been trying to live with the loss of their 12 year old son Joey for the last three years. Valeria Johnson says they were just wrapping up Father’s Day in a Camarillo park when tragedy struck. Joey was on his bike near Carmen, and Edgemont Drives in Camarillo when he rode into the path of an oncoming vehicle, and was hit.

He had been wearing a bicycle helmet earlier in the day, but as his parents were loading their vehicle to go home, they didn’t noticed he wasn’t wearing it.

He died a few hours later at a hospital. Joey’s family and friends believe that if he would have been wearing a helmet, he’d be alive today.

They’ve teamed up with the Oxnard Fire Department, and the Oxnard Firefighters Foundation in a unique new effort to educate kids about the importance of bicycle helmets. Alex Hamilton is a Battalion Chief with the Oxnard Fire Department. He says they’ve created a video which re-enacts the tragic accident, along with interviews with Joey’s parents and friends. They are hoping it will connect with kids in a way parents and teachers can’t about the importance of helmets.

The video premiered at Oxnard’s Kamala School, and Valeria Johnson was on hand at a special assembly to talk about the importance of helmets. Students were then given free helmets. Joey’s mother says it’s hard to drive down a street and see kids making the same mistake her son made by going helmet-less.  She’s hoping that she can honor her son by helping to prevent more accidents of the type which took his life.

Oxnard firefighters say statistics show bicycle helmets are 90% effective in preventing head and brain injuries. They’re hoping this new video, which was funded by the State Office of Traffic Safety will make a difference. It’s on the Oxnard Fire Department’s Facebook page. The Fire Department is also making downloads, and high definition DVD’s available to other public safety agencies, and anyone who wants them for free.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.