West Seneca students reminded about seat belt safety

Assembly comes just days after accident claims life of South Park High student

Mike Baggerman
May 14, 2019 - 12:53 pm

WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman

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WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WBEN) - West Seneca Schools for multiple weeks planned to talk about seat belt safety with students at West Seneca East ahead of their prom season and summer months, but Tuesday's assembly took on an even stronger meaning after Sunday morning's tragedy took the life of South Park High School student Tyler Wackowski and injured five others, three of whom were students at West Seneca East.

"While the message that we're here to deliver today about seat belt safety and driving safety hasn't changed since that day a couple of weeks ago, the events this past Sunday certainly put things in a different light," West Seneca Schools Superintendent Matthew Bystrak said. "A more personal light. Maybe it will stress the urgency a little more. No one should ever have to go through what the individuals and the families and friends...had to go through."

Arguably the most powerful speech given at Tuesday's assembly came from West Seneca Town Judge Shannon Filbert. Filbert broke her neck in a car accident while riding to school with friends in 1998. She was not wearing a seat belt and is quadriplegic.

"I was an invincible young girl," Filbert said. "I was 16 years old, heading to school here at West Seneca East one day. Driving with friends. They picked me up. We didn't make it to school that day."

"It's real," she added. "It's real. We're not invincible. I wasn't and neither are you. It takes two seconds to put on a seatbelt."

Police in West Seneca on Monday said that some of the students injured in Sunday's accident were not wearing seat belts. It's unconfirmed if Wackowski had his seat belt on. Police also said there were beer cans in the car.

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