HOUSTON (FOX 26) - A 16-year-old girl, just down the street from her house, took off her seat belt to take a selfie. Seconds later she was dead, killed in a car crash. The teen's parents are now trying to bring awareness to the importance of wearing your seat belt.
We've heard the slogans "seat belts save lives", but David and Wendy Mills say you've never heard their story. The grieving parents have a message about seat belt safety. They say if you don't always wear your seat belt, here are 929 reasons why you should -- that's the number of people in Texas who died while not wearing a seat belt last year.
The parents are joining the Texas Department of Transportation for a new "Click It or Ticket" campaign that features a display of mostly white footwear in every size, style and shape representing the nearly one thousand people whose shoes you don't want to walk in.
"Our daughter's shoes are the pink ones that we placed there to represent her. They call them ghost shoes. I can almost see all the people standing here," says David Mills whose daughter died in October.
16-year-old Kailee Mills was in the car with friends Halloween weekend, just 500 yards from home, and she unbuckled her seat belt to snap a picture of herself.
"The car went off the road. She was ejected and she died instantly. All the other kids in the car they had their seat belts on and they all survived with very little injury," explains Mr. Mills.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, buckling up is the most effective thing you can do to protect yourself in a crash. So the Mills family is teaming with TXDOT to spread the word.
"Our daughter would be here today if she had been wearing her seat belt," says the grieving father.
The Mills have also started the Kailee Mills Foundations, a non-profit putting decals in car windows reminding everyone to buckle up as they honor and remember their daughter.
"She had this laugh that was very unique. Her laugh alone made you smile and she loved to make people smile. My daughter was just outgoing, a ray of sunshine," says Wendy Mills.
If you simply buckle your seat belt, TXDOT says you reduce the risk of dying in a crash by 45% in a car or SUV, and 60% in a pickup truck. Texas officers will saturate streets and highways this month, ticketing more drivers and passengers who aren't buckled up.