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South Jersey father responds to family of teen whose accident took daughter's life

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Several weeks ago, an article was published on Philly2Philly.com regarding Nikky Kellenyi, whose senseless death in 2012 resulted in her family starting a nationwide campaign to stop people from distracted driving.

 

While some have rallied behind the Kellenyi family for coming forward with the article, others have denounced the words of her father, Mike Kellenyi, and the details surrounding his daughter’s death.

 

The following are the words of Mike Kellenyi, who not only stands by his words from the previous article, but voluntarily came to us to share his thoughts on some of the backlash the piece has received:

 

 

I am the father of Nikki Kellenyi, who we have not hugged for almost two years because of "inattentive" driving (determined by the official investigation conducted by the prosecutor). Nikki Kellenyi

 

I am disappointed to see some of these negative comments and accusations, as I can only go by the forensic science, crash reconstruction and phone records to know what caused the driver to cross three lanes and never see the pick-up.

 

Distracted driving killed my daughter.  The Fifth Amendment should not be allowed in a case where "friends" are involved. Our hearts are not only ripped apart from our daughter being killed in a preventable crash, we have the added pain of not knowing the last ten seconds of her life and no apology.  One could not possibly know what my family and I have to endure every day unless you have walked a day in our shoes.  You do not have to look at pictures of her in order to “see” your child or say "I love you."

 

I have no reason to lie, I only want to prevent this from happening to anyone else. it was the driver who pleaded the Fifth, deleted evidence (voice-mail), and her boyfriend at the time gave the police (eight months later) a different phone than the one that received the text or the voice mail that night.  

 

Additionally, how would someone know what I listened to on my front porch the day after my daughter was killed?  I heard the voice mail, it was played to me along with twenty of Nikki's friends by the driver’s boyfriend, who was the recipient of the voice mail. Also, phone records show texts to him while she was driving that very night, and to many other friends. How someone can say I didn't hear it blows my mind. I also never said the driver was drunk, although she did admit the beer was hers and plead guilty to open alcohol.

 

 

The driver of the pickup received no tickets, the truck had the right of way. If police felt he was speeding excessively, they would have issued a ticket. There are two stop signs at the intersection for driver of the car Nikki was in, and almost four lanes were crossed before the impact that killed Nikki and almost killed another passenger. Failure to stop, inattentive driving and the speed of the truck (9mph) was determined to be the official cause of my daughter’s death by the prosecutor.

The driver of the vehicle that Nikki was a backseat passenger in, plead guilty to failure to stop, open alcohol and no seat belt. The careless driving was pleaded down, she lost her license for six months and was fined six or seven hundred dollars. The driver- Nikki's "friend," also plead the Fifth, did not offer any testimony that day and refused to apologize when given the chance by the judge.

To all the readers out there, I am trying to spread the message of the dangers of DISTRACTED driving through Nikki's tragic crash. Something distracted the driver of the car Nikki was in. I honestly don't care what it was, it was something. You make a conscious decision when driving to be distracted, to text, to talk on the phone, to read a map, to change a CD. It's a decision to take your eyes off the road for a second or two. A decision that if one makes, can kill in that second or two and the results last forever.

We know the driver didn't mean to kill our daughter, but she did. There is no blame here, just facts. She should take responsibility for her actions and should apologize to us. She should join PADD and help us help others. It's not easy to admit a mistake, to say I'm sorry. But it's ten thousand times harder to talk everyday about how your child was killed hoping it will prevent the same death to another child, hoping it will prevent another family from living our nightmare.

The leading cause of death among our young now is inattentive or distracted driving (drunk driving is #2) and phone use (texting, calling, tweeting, emails, gps, etc) is the most predominant factor in these types of crashes.If it was not distracted driving from phone use, why would Nikki's "friend" plead the Fifth, delete the voice mail and switch phones?   Phone records do not lie and they are at Washington Township Police Department if anyone wants to verify together with a prosecutor’s package.

 

Mike Kellenyi

 

 

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