STORIES
Women

Autumn Alexander Skeen

by Darrin from Alaska

Autumn and Her Husband Tom
Autumn and Her Husband Tom

I first learned about Autumn Alexander Skeen from my mother who went to high school with her. They have remained close friends since then. Autumn’s family lived in Washington in the Yakima Valley when she was young. In the late 90’s she and her husband moved with their two children to Japan for her husband’s job. In the summer of 1996 Autumn took the kids to Washington for a family visit.

On June 18, 1996, Autumn and her 4-year-old son, Anton, were in Ellensburg, Washington. She was driving a small SUV that she had borrowed from her parents on Interstate 82 when a gust of wind hit the car. She slid onto the sand next to the road, losing control of the car, causing it to roll several times. Anton, who was strapped into the passenger seat, was thrown from the car and killed. Three years later, Autumn began fighting for a booster seat law.

At the time of the accident, children Anton’s age were only required to be in an adult seatbelt. Autumn’s grief lead her to feel that the state laws had misled her, and needed to be changed to help protect children across America. Through research, she found car safety advocate studies showed that adult seatbelts can be as dangerous to children as airbags. In September of 1999, Autumn told her story to the Washington State SAFE Kids Coalition. With the help of supporters who had heard her story and Washington’s Governor Gary Locke, a bill was passed in Washington state on March 29, 2000. The bill was named “Anton’s Law.”

As a result of the law passing in other states, California, Arkansas, South Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, and New Jersey, the law became a countrywide issue. In May of 2001, a bill, H.R. 5504, was introduced to the Federal Legislature; it was sponsored by Senator Peter Fitzgerald [R-IL]. President George W. Bush signed the bill into law on December 4, 2002. The law requires that children under 8 years must be in booster seats when they are riding in a car.

Autumn and President Bush
Autumn and President Bush

Autumn Alexander Skeen is my hero because she is very strong. Even in the face of grief and suffering she can still fight for her cause. With the help of everyone upholding “Anton’s Law,” children will be safer. She means a lot just to my family alone. Both my parents have been in their share of car crashes and this law will help protect me from an avoidable accident. She is a true hero.

Page created on 5/11/2007 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 5/11/2007 12:00:00 AM

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Related Links

Autumn Alexander Skeen - Public Citizen