Ohio Sportscaster, Dom Tiberi, has experienced it first hand. The grief that goes with losing a child in a split second due to distracted driving has been placed in his line-up of duties. His loss has affected the way he views life and he has chosen to make a difference. Losing his daughter, unexpectedly from a tragic car accident last fall, Tiberi has moved on to help others. He echoes the grief of many families while promoting the warnings and messages about distracted driving.
On a typical September evening last fall, Tiberi’s 21 year old daughter, Maria, left the house with smiles and I love you. It was a short venture out to see her sister at work, just to say a quick hello. The road trip ended too soon with Maria crashing into the back of a semi truck, ending the dream for herself and the hopes of her family. It all happened too quickly, as no one had time to say goodbye. Everything changed for the Tiberi family on September 17, 2013.
No drugs or alcohol were found in Maria’s system and evidence of phone use proved negative. The young gal had simply been distracted by something while driving on a busy highway. It happens all too frequently with drivers of any age. Getting distracted by various things can have a fatal outcome, not only for the driver, but for others in their path. Maria did not endanger anyone else that fateful night, but her untimely death has in turn affected thousands to be more aware.
Wanting others to learn from the tragedy, Tiberi has joined forces with his news station, WBNS-10TV in Columbus, Ohio and the community to promote Maria’s Message. He is well recognized in central Ohio, as his career as a sportscaster has had him up close and personal with past and present coaches of OSU football and basketball. Covering sports related events for decades, Tiberi is well respected in conveying his message.
As the long months of grief have unfolded while dealing with the death of Maria, Tiberi, his wife Terri, daughter Kelsey and son Dominic have pledged to make a difference. Joined with the outpouring of support from family, co-workers, friends and fans, The Maria Tiberi Foundation has been established in her memory. The goal is to bring more awareness to defensive driving by spreading Maria’s Message. Her vibrant life and tragic death is being used in a positive way to help others.
Many businesses and schools in the central Ohio area have joined in the efforts, holding fund raisers and awareness classes. The money raised will go towards scholarships and programs aimed at preventing distracted driving. The echoing grief of Tiberi is shared with other families who have gone through similar situations. He is encouraged by the overwhelming response to the campaign and celebrated a victory recently in Maria’s memory.
The Ohio senate bill to declare September as Safe Driving Awareness Month was introduced by Senator Jim Hughes and passed unanimously. Each senator stood up to cast their affirmative vote, which was a tribute in itself. The respect shown by the lawmakers to the Tiberi family was heartfelt as the unified vote was not debated. The awareness campaign continues by spreading Maria’s Message in order to help save lives. This family has turned their grief into a positive as they honor Maria’s memory and help to warn others about distracted driving.
By: Roanne FitzGibbon