Seventeen year-old Rochelle Rathbone walked out of the Miami
Mall. Her hands and arms were laden with packages containing new
clothing she purchased to spice up her wardrobe for the last weeks
of her senior year of high school. After locating her mother's car in
the parking lot, she put her shopping bags on the back seat. Sliding
under the steering wheel, she was none the wiser that her life was
about to take a turn down a path she would one day regret.
“Drive carefully. Watch the speed limit. Watch out for other
drivers,” Rochelle's mother had cautioned when handing over the
“Mama, I know how to drive,” Rochelle rebutted with her usual
Settling comfortably on the driver's seat, Rochelle turned on the
radio. Tuning to a station she liked, she turned up the volume. After
cranking the car, she glanced to the left and to the right, trying to see
around the rear end of vehicles flanking her car. She didn't see
anything moving, so she shoved the gear in reverse, planted her foot
on the accelerator too hard, and went flying backwards.
The sound of metal crashing against metal rang in her ears even
above the blast of music on the car radio. The impact thrust her
forward, banging her head on the steering wheel. A dizzy spell
grabbed her, making her vision fuzzy.
Not until her car door was jerked open and an angry voice
shouted, “Why in the hell don't you watch where you're going,” did
she start regaining her equilibrium.