The death of three teenagers near New Richmond, Wisconsin, had a deep impact on one of the boys’ friends. The teen was the last person to see the boys alive. He was the only person who lived through the triple fatal car accident on Interstate 94.

The survivor told interviewers that the auto accident was caused by three seconds of distracted driving. The teens had spotted a girl in another vehicle. The boys, including the driver, made a mad scramble to locate a piece of paper and write down their phone numbers for the girl.

During the momentary distraction, the sport utility vehicle was traveling 65 mph. The driver searched the console. A passenger loosened his seat belt to search in the back of the car.

That’s when the SUV struck a tractor-trailer stopped in the road, killing three of the four boys. The survivor, a passenger, escaped with a fractured collarbone.

Tragic teen car accidents are not new, but that does not lessen the heartache for the families of the victims. The parents of three boys on the brink of adulthood will never see their children graduate, go to college, marry or become parents. One set of parents became keenly aware of how close their son came to dying needlessly.

Crash-scene evidence might never have revealed to investigators as much as they learned from the teen that outlived the crash. A sister of one of the boys who died felt the accident was senseless. She hoped that her brother’s death would set an example for others about the dangers of distracted driving.

Although the passengers participated in the fatal hunt for a piece of paper, the teen behind the wheel was responsible for the safety for the SUV’s occupants. Driver negligence caused the accident, according to the boy who survived.

Wrongful death lawsuits filed by victims’ family members could compensate them for expenses, including the hospital expenses and burial and funeral costs associated with the loss of their sons’ lives.

Source:, “I-94 crash survivor says 3 seconds of distraction killed friends,” Scott Wasserman, Aug. 9, 2012