Next of kin database helps connect Ohio families in emergencies


None of us want to think about having a loved one hurt- or worse- in an accident. But if it happens, would first responders know how to reach you?

For two Ohio mothers, the answer to that question was "no".

From their pain and loss, they changed state law, to help other families connect when it matters most.

David Money's signature was his smile. But his passion was sports. He dreamed of playing professional baseball.

"And I said, 'David, I will do whatever it takes for you to play. No matter how I have to help you, I will do whatever," said his mother, Carmela Wiant.

David wouldn't live to see his dream become reality. On August 7, 2006, he was killed in a car accident.

"My heart was just broke," said Wiant.

Adding to her grief, was the pain of not being able to get to the hospital on time.

"I just wanted to get to my son. I just wanted to be next to him," she said. "They didn't know how to notify me. They went through David's phone and they didn't see anything."

Linda Wuestenberg didn't know Carmela Wiant, but she knew her pain. When her son Stevie Burge was critically injured in a 2007 crash, it took authorities 7 hours to find her.

"The only information police have to work with is the address on your driver's license. That's it," Wuestenberg told 10TV in 2007. "In my son's case, he was a single guy. There wasn't anyone there when they went to knock on the door."

The mothers pushed for the creation of a Next of Kin Database, where every Ohio driver can list two emergency contacts.

The information is only accessible by law enforcement. Nine years ago this week, that idea became law.

"Think about if your parents or somebody in your family was hurt in an accident," said Wiant. "How fast would you want to know? Will I would want to know right away. That's what this is about."

Nine years later, both mothers continue to educate Ohio drivers and urge them to sign up.

"Just do it for your family," Wiant said."Do it for yourself. Do it for your family."

So far, more than 1.1 million Ohioans have registered in the state's Next of Kin Database.

Twelve other states have followed suit in creating their own emergency contact systems. You can register online. Click here to find out how.