Family taking steps to improve driver safety in South Carolina after son's death

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - This week marks one year since Summerville High School student-athlete Tripp Rabon died in a car accident in Colleton County.

It was two days before Christmas and he was on a duck hunting trip with friends.

Sandra Rabon lost her son to what the family says was a preventable car accident.

"Our life has changed forever it's going to be something that we live with every moment everyday," Sandra said. "Anything we can do so that no other parent has to go through this is what our goal is."

The family says the road Tripp was riding on was known to be dangerous, and was flooded the morning he died.

That's why Tripp's sister Emily started an online petition for "Tripp Rabon's Law." Their petition would require SCDOT to create an up-to-date public report on unsafe road conditions and previous accidents to alert drivers with signs or phone alerts as drivers approach an unsafe road. They are looking for collaboration between the public and government to provide the most updated information on road conditions.

According to the petition the law would show statistics on accidents, fatalities, 911 calls and public repair requests.

The Rabon's say the the road where the accident occurred was repaired on the day Tripp died.

"We do have a problem and we need to figure out how to fix it," Emily said.

"Just several weeks before someone had just ran off the road there and was thrown into the ditch and had almost died," Sandra said.

In memory of Tripp the Rabon's are bringing a pro-active driving course to the Charleston area to teach teens how to handle unexpected situations.

Sandra says she's learned of several stories from other parents who have lost children due to unsafe road conditions. A family friend approached the Rabon's about the course and they felt it was a way to honor Tripp.

The course is called BRAKES and it's based in Charlotte. It stands for Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe. A race car driver started the program after losing two his two sons in car accident.

It teaches defensive driving skills through exercises on panic stops, skid and accident avoidance, off-road recovery, and more. It's free with a $99 refundable deposit and up to 180 teens ages 15 to 19 can participate in the local course in February. The family's goal is to help save lives and they're pushing for improvements on South Carolina roads.

"I know he's going to be very very happy that his friends get to participate in it, not only can it save a life, but all the responses the kids really enjoy it," Sandra said.

They find strength in knowing that Tripp is still being remembered.

"I know a lot of people visit the grave site and bring flowers and other things and will text mom and say 'hey we're thinking about Tripp we're thinking about y'all' and I know it helps everybody," Emily said.

Tripp's sister Lydia says it's awesome when people come together to honor her brother.

"I think he would be really amazed by that and proud by what everyone is doing to make roads safer because if he was here and it was one of his friends or one of us he would be doing the exact same thing," Lydia said. "We just really miss him."

BRAKES Driving Course Requirements

  • Teens, 15 to 19, with a valid permit or driver's license
  • 30 hours of driving time behind the wheel
  • Must be accompanied by a parent our guardian
  • Registration must be completed no later than January 17, 2017.

The course will be February 4 and 5 from 8 a.m. to noon or 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. You can register at or call 704-720-3806.

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