REMEMBERING MAYOR THOMAS MENINO: Complete Coverage

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Mother Fights To Put Emergency Contact Info On Mass. Licenses

By Jim Armstrong, WBZ-TV
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Jim Armstrong is an Emmy-award winning reporter who joined WBZ-TV in...
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BOSTON (CBS) – It will be nine years next month that Joshua Cloutier died following a terrible car crash in Sterling.

The anniversary always brings back painful memories, but for Joshua’s parents, it also brings back anger.

The night of the accident, Joshua’s parents slept soundly for three hours as their oldest son clung to life at the hospital. No one called them to let them know what had happened until the parents of one of the other people in the car called to ask why they were not in the emergency room with everyone else.

“It goes over in our minds all the time,” says Joshua’s mother Sharon. “Three hours, that our son was left up at the hospital by himself. I mean, I know that the doctors and the nurses were there, but us as parents weren’t — to hold his hand, to let him know we were there,” she explains, fighting back tears.

If Joshua had been a few years younger, emergency officials would have searched for his parents, as they did for his friends who were in the car with him.

But since he was 20-years-old, and considered an adult, no one looked for next of kin.

“The minute he came rolling through the doors we should have been standing there waiting for him,” his mother says.

A tragedy like that never needs to happen again, the family says, if Massachusetts driver’s licenses simply included contact information like a name and phone number embedded in the license’s bar-code. Such information could be readily accessible with just a swipe. That way, the family says, police could have told them what had happened immediately.

Such technology is already in use in a number of states.

The Cloutiers have spent several years trying to get state officials on board with the idea, but haven’t made much progress.

Says Mrs. Cloutier: “I think that’s pretty easy, it’s just getting somebody to help me do that.”

As Joshua’s anniversary nears, his mom is once again feeling like she needs to take action – both to honor his memory and to make sure that other parents won’t endure what they did.

As a matter of fact, there is a bill at the State House right now that would do exactly what the Cloutier family wants. It is sponsored by Representative James Murphy of Weymouth. He was contacted by a constituent who had a personal experience very similar to the Cloutiers’. But that bill is stalled in committee.

The Cloutiers hope the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles will just take the lead and make the necessary policy change without waiting for legislation. WBZ called the RMV to see what they think of the idea; they are looking into it.

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