There are so many questions that this story will leave you with, but the one that sticks with me, right now, is how this 14-year-old girl is going to live with the guilt that she was driving the car that flipped and killed her mother. I'm not suggesting it's the young teen's fault -- there's so little info -- but I am suggesting that no matter who the guilty party is, or whether or not it was a total accident, Caitlin Clouse of Linn County, Kansas will always relive the moment she over-corrected the 1999 Ford Explorer and wound up in a ditch. The SUV flipped multiple times and her mother, who was not wearing a seat belt, died in the accident, while the two other passengers, as well as Caitlin, were sent to the hospital. Their injuries are unknown.
It looks like in Kansas, you can get a driver's permit if you're 14 or older, so it's likely that Caitlin and her mom, Brenda Jo Clouse, 42, were not up to anything illegal. Had Brenda not been able to drive, the other two passengers were older than Caitlin. Shaylyn Holcomb is 15, and Connor Clouse, presumably a relative if not Brenda's son and Caitlin's brother, is 16. If the mom was incapacitated somehow, I'd assume she would have asked the eldest in the car to drive, but since Caitlin, the youngest, was behind the wheel, it makes me think they were just out for a driving lesson when things took a tragic turn.
But why take an opportunity for a lesson with other kids in the car? And why were only Caitlin and Shaylyn the only ones buckled up?
The fall is always a time of renewal -- new school clothes, new friends, new beginnings -- but my heart goes out to the Clouse family. Their fall has been marred by devastating catastrophe that will stick with them forever and a lifetime. The accident is currently under investigation.
What do you think?
Photo via Facebook via KCTV5