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Maria's Message hits major milestone: Dom Tiberi delivers 150th presentation

It’s been nine years since Dom Tiberi lost his 21-year-old daughter, Maria, in an accident. Since then, the Tiberi family has worked to end distracted driving.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Maria’s Message has hit a milestone. 10TV sports anchor Dom Tiberi took his distracted driving presentation to Westerville North High School Wednesday. It was his 150th Maria’s Message.

It’s been nine years since Tiberi lost his 21-year-old daughter, Maria, in a traffic accident. Police believe some type of distraction caused her not to see a stopped semi on Interstate 270.

“We’ll never know, that’s the part that kills us. But she was doing something. I mean, you don’t just run into the back of a semi,” Dom said.

The Tiberi family has never been the same since that dreadful night in September 2013.

“Just before she left, Terri yelled out ‘I love you Maria,’ and Maria said, ‘I love you more.’ She always said that. Always had to have the last word. We called Maria 'the attorney.' We didn’t know that would be the last time we heard her sweet voice,” Dom recalls.

Nothing can bring Maria back. But, the Tiberi family has made it their mission to try and help keep other families from experiencing the loss of a loved one due to distracted driving.

Through a partnership with 10TV, Dom began Maria’s Message, sharing his story at central Ohio high schools and bringing awareness to the potential consequences of not paying attention behind the wheel and students are listening and learning.

“Value your life and don’t be distracted while driving because it can end in a second,” said Bishop Ready High School senior Annie Melaragno after Dom gave his Maria’s Message presentation at her school.

The partnership with 10TV also provides free defensive driving classes for teenagers during the summer.

“It encourages me because of what my dad’s able to do. I look up to him a lot,” says Dom’s son Dominic. “If he’s able to speak at all these schools to all these students, then you know, I gotta do my part as well.”

For their part, the family runs the Maria Tiberi Foundation, providing driving simulator labs at schools. The training is a seven-hour program with 16 different lesson plans educating teens by simulating various distractions while driving.

“There’s not a television station in American that’s doing what we’re doing with the message about distracted driving. There’s not a foundation in the country that’s doing what we’re doing with buying simulators,” Dom says. “I’m very proud of that. My 10TV family helped save my life by being able to do this and we’re all vested in this.”

The foundation recently celebrated a third driving simulator lab opening soon at Fort Hayes Career Center in Columbus.

“For so many of those children, it’s the only kind of driver’s education they’re going to get because in Ohio you can wait until you’re 18 and go get your license. So many of these kids can’t afford it. So, I’m thrilled that it’s going in there,” says Dom.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle accidents are the number one killer of teenagers.

“It’s our mission to help other people understand that distracted driving is an epidemic,” says Kelsey Tiberi, Dom’s daughter.

But many crashes are preventable… if you keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. Although the message comes too late for Maria, the Tiberi’s hope turning their tragedy into something positive will help save someone else’s child.

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