Mother Fights To Put Emergency Contact Info On Mass. Licenses

By Jim Armstrong, WBZ-TV

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.

More from Jim Armstrong
  • Bruce

    What a great idea!!!! Sorry for your loss Sharon. I hope the powers to be be make this idea a reality

  • mrlemonjello

    I keep a laminated card behind my license with my emergency contacts on it. That way if my contacts change, I don’t need to get a new license. “Emergency Contacts” is visible when the license is pulled out.

  • mikey

    Why does it have to be on the license? The state has tons of info on every person, why can’t it be added there to pop up whenever a license search is done?

  • Rob Cleary

    Barney Fife can easily obtain this information from info ALREADY available on the license. The Commonwealths KGB already have too much info.This is a horrible idea.

    • Bob

      Hey cleary or whatever your name is (wouldn’t want the KGB to know !! ) you are missing the whole point of this story.
      Here’s a mother who has gone through the absolute worst thing that a parent
      can go through, is trying to get the establashment to do something good for a change and maybe in the process help ease some pain of her loss.
      I honestly don’t understand how people like you can wake up in the morning
      and rub salt in in a wound of a person who is trying to do something good for
      Sharon you go girl !!!
      Wish you sucess in your crusade !!

  • Linda

    Being a mother, I can understand the need to be with your child during such a traumatic time and I think this is a good idea, however, being someone who works in a hopsital, there are confidentiality laws that we have to contend with every day.
    When a person is over 18, they are considered an adult. So the question becomes, if someone is called due to an accident or other incident involving an adult child, is this a breach of confidentiality in accordance with the law?

  • J.C.

    How about we leave it as an option for every citizen? If you want to add an emergency contact then add it. Just like being an Organ Donor….it’s all about Options. I for one , would feel more comfortable knowing my emergency contact may be able to speak for me if I could not.

  • MJG

    that is why pp have contact emergency info in their wallets or phones – I don’t want everyone seeing my contact information. Can you imagine what pranksters would do with all those numbers? That is personal information.

  • MJG

    duh sorry – i read this too fast – was thinking license plates… but even if we have this information available, do they call if you are considered an adult? I don’t understand why they wouldn’t. Is that a law? can’t be – pp are notified all of the time, aren’t they? Now I’m thinking about this.. I thought that is why we put ICE info in our phones.. Thanks.

    • Sharon

      MJG, This will be for anyone of any age, it will be opitioal, we dont wqnt to force anyone to do this..No htye arent notified all the time if they were i wouldnt of told my story, If youyr in a accident the police arent going to go crawling all over looking for your cell phone and what if its locked????? this is a good idea

  • Family Continues Fight To Get Next Of Kin Info On Mass. Licenses « CBS Boston

    […] mother, Sharon Cloutier, spoke to WBZ back in 2012. “I mean, I know that the doctors and nurses were there, but us as parents, weren’t. To hold […]

blog comments powered by Disqus
Taz Show
Download Weather App

Listen Live