|Keeler Family Portrait
August 6, 1962
On Saturday, August 18, 1962, the Keeler family had their last fun day together as a family. They enjoyed a family picnic at a roadside park near Flint, Michigan, and afterwards, father Lester, age 38, mother Betty, age 33, sister Kimberly, age 6, and Scott, age 10, all piled into their red 1961 Bell Air Coupe. (In the early 60s seatbelts were not a standard option, and the Keeler’s car did not have them installed.)
On their drive home, they were hit by a 22-year-old male who admitted to drinking at least a six pack before driving. This crash was his eleventh offense.
Scott’s parents and sister were all thrown from the car. Betty, Scott’s mother, died instantly from multiple skull fractures and brain trauma. His sister Kimberly sustained cuts and bruises. Lester, his father, landed under the wreckage with broken ribs and collar bone, and suffered a traumatic brain injury, which changed his personality drastically; he went from being a loving family man and community leader, to somebody unable to care for his family.
Scott was trapped inside the car until a first responder noticed the crumpled little boy in the back seat. Scott was in a coma for three months and when he woke up he discovered that he was no longer the kid who had been playing with his sister and enjoying a family picnic with his parents that August day. Scott had a traumatic brain injury and was paralyzed on his left side. He had a tracheotomy to help him breathe. He was in immense pain, and recalls the nurses having to wrestle with him to get his arm in a sling, and to straighten it out. He had expressive aphasia—the inability to speak. Scott had to re-teach himself the basics: how to talk, walk, put on clothes, use the bathroom and feed himself. Due of the changes in his father as a result of the injuries sustained in the crash, Scott was passed from family member to family member before ending up in a foster home.
The drunk driver was sentenced to two years of probation and 104 weekends in jail. The judge prefaced the sentencing by stating that he “hated to pass such a strict sentence on such a fine young man.”
50 Years Later…
This crash happened before there were things like no-fault insurance, so Scott has had to pay medical bills out of pocket, which continues to be a struggle. He still has medical issues because of the crash that happened 50 years ago. Recently Scott underwent hip replacement surgery due to injuries sustained in the crash. While his is speech is still hard to understand, Scott hasn’t let the crash stop him from living, and thriving. Scott received his Masters of Social Work in 1993—he wanted to help other people and to make more money to pay his medical bills.
| Scott and Stephanie at a
National Crime Victims' Rights Week event.
One evening while watching the news with his wife Stephanie, they heard that the MADD chapter in Kalamazoo was being shut down. They knew they needed to do something, so Scott and Stephanie both became MADD Michigan Volunteers. Scott began volunteering for MADD in 1988, and he continues to provide help to other victims to this day. Scott helps MADD Michigan find and reach out to crash victims and he and his wife run several of the Victim Impact Panels in their area. Scott speaks to area organizations and at the VIPs about his crash and everybody he meets is touched by how much Scott has overcome. Scott is also a trained facilitator for the Power of Parents™ Workshops.
Scott feels that volunteering for MADD is the most important thing he does. Scott said, “I knew there was not a lot I could do about what happened in 1962, but I want to make things better for the people who are affected by drunk driving now and in the future. I’ve dedicated my activism in loving memory of my mother.”