One day in October 2004, Jenny Kukucka and her big brother, Joey, were on their way out of town to see their mom. Jenny, a member of Crew 312 since that August, was known to everyone by her smile. Shy by nature, the 14-year-old embraced the crew and became an active member. She loved the outdoors, rock climbing and looked forward to a crew horseback camping trip the next month.
But she never made it.
The car carrying Jenny and driven by Joey collided with another that October day and both were killed. Neither was wearing seat belts.
It wasn’t the first time the crew had experienced loss from an accident in which a youth was unbuckled. Four years earlier, a Dutch Fork High School student who had been attending the crew meetings and was preparing to join died in one of a string of accidents involving area teens killed or hospitalized and who were not wearing seat belts.
Shocked and saddened by Jenny’s death, the crew vowed to try and prevent future such tragedies and spent months developing a driving safety campaign. In March 2005, members of the crew visited Dutch Fork Middle School, Dutch Fork High School and Lexington High School and spent a week at each conducting games, televised panels and bringing speakers, including Jenny’s mom and a state Highway Patrol trooper. The crew also handed out candy to those in each school’s parking lot spotted wearing seat belts.
The crew also produced a DVD on driving safety, showing the impact of Jenny’s death and including driving safety tips. The DVD was donated to the Indian Waters Council for use by other Scouting groups and is shown each fall to Crew 312 members to remind them of the importance of safety.
The crew also honored Jenny by naming its annual public service award after her.
We also adopted tough, new safety rules for Crew 312 activities.
We want teenagers – whether they are drivers or passengers – to take responsibility for their own safety by insisting on proper seat belting and safe driving in whatever vehicle they are in.
Please drive safely and responsibly!