I’m a Mainer through and through. We might have a pretty big state, geographically speaking, but we’re totally small-town up in here. So, when I hear of an upsetting story hitting a small town near me, the chances are pretty good that I know someone personally involved.
This past Monday, our small-knit-communities were shaken up by the tragic news that local mom of two, Desiree Strout — who was pregnant with her third and on her way to the hospital to be induced — died in a car accident.
On Monday, Desiree Strout, known affectionately as Des, was excitedly getting her family ready to welcome a third child, a boy, to the mix. Her husband, Harry Weeks, and their 8-year-old daughter packed into the family car and headed to the hospital where Strout was scheduled to be induced.
If you know anything about January in Maine, you know that we have an annual January thaw and the roads can get a little dicey. The family hit a patch of black ice and lost control of the car.
After the car rolled over, Des was rushed to the ER, where surgeons performed a Cesarean section — but Des passed away. The newborn baby is listed in critical condition at the time of this writing. And one of the saddest details of this story is that Desiree was not wearing a seatbelt.
“I don’t know why she wasn’t wearing one,” a family member who chose not to be identified tells Babble. “Desiree wasn’t drunk. She wasn’t high. She wasn’t even speeding. The roads were clear, I know, because I was on them that same morning at the same time. I did the regular speed limit all the way to work myself. She hit a patch of black ice, and she died.”
According to the CDC, 22K Americans died as a result of not wearing a seatbelt in 2015 alone. As a busy mom of three who is often on the road shuffling kids to and from sports games and doctor’s appointments, I have definitely caught myself remembering to buckle up only after I made it a mile down the road. I get it. We get busy and distracted.
“The only thing that she did wrong is something that millions of people do every single day,” Desiree’s family member tells Babble. “She forgot to put on a seatbelt. Mind you, she made sure her daughter was buckled properly, but she forgot herself. I don’t know why, or how, or if it was intentional, or just her forgetfulness. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. The fact is it happened, and we will never get her back because of it.”
Strout leaves behind a tight-knit family who loved her fiercely.
“Our family is a village in and of itself. We’ve always been a large family, but we also all stick around the same area,” her family member tells Babble. “We kind of flood the Skowhegan, Maine area. Desiree was one of the loudest among us. She was always smiling and laughing, even when angry. And that girl was always late. It was such a regular thing that we couldn’t help but laugh about it. Desiree loves her kids, definitely, but she also respects them as people. That’s a trait that’s hard to come by. She built up such a strong independence in her kids that at times she was herding cats. But you could tell that she loved every single minute of it. She never took the easy way out.”
The family has set up a GoFundMe page to help with hospital costs for Strout’s newborn son, who remains in intensive care. May this story be a reminder to everyone, everywhere to ALWAYS buckle up. No matter what.