Health & Wellness

Guest Column

Mindfulness: Seatbelt Safety Saves New Jersey Family

The SUV vehicle that exploded into flames less than a minute after the LaRosa family escaped.
The SUV vehicle after the flames were extinguished.
Life is Beautiful sculpture at Cibo Wine Bar in South Beach, Miami, Florida. Credits: Shari LaRosa

Mindful Driving 

I had just excitedly taken a photo in front of this Life Is Beautiful Sculpture after spending a very lovely week away with family and friends.  It was the last night of what was truly a wonderful vacation.  I actually sat at dinner and while looking around the room, I was appreciating the good friends, the delicious food and the gorgeous evening wishing it would last longer.  The next day we would be headed back to the cold weather.

The following morning was beautiful in terms of the glistening sunrise and the sparkling water, but not so was the experience that was about to happen.  We called an Uber to take us from South Beach, to Miami airport.  My husband sat in the front and I sat in between my two daughters ages 12 and 15 at the time.  It was a little after 6 am.  I told the younger to buckle up as she was semi-laying down tired.   Although we were going for a short city ride, I insisted she put her seatbelt on.  My older daughter had already done so automatically.  I buckled up as well for what should have been a 15 minute ride to the airport.   All of us were kind of dazed and tired as we headed onto the parkway.  Just as we approached an overpass – boom, we were hit from behind.  It knocked off the tire of the Honda SUV Uber we were in and our car spun around and around hitting the side of the overpass.  I thought we were going over.  Somehow, all our luggage actually did eject from the vehicle and go over the overpass.  ‘When is this going to stop, what is this going to feel like’ – the thoughts going through my head.  ‘What is my husband thinking?  My daughter kept saying ‘I love you.’  The car came to a stop.  Everyone got out and I try to as well but I was stuck. The car was filling with smoke.  In a panic I was able to lift the belt over my lap and shimmy underneath it to escape the car.  It was hard to breathe.  Less than a minute after getting out the car exploded.  My older daughter fainted.  The ambulance took her away, her back was broken.  My younger daughter was ok and my husband ok.   I was bruised, had whiplash, difficulty breathing, but OK.  

Sign Up for E-News

We are all OK now.  We got very very lucky.  

I share this story to remind everyone to be mindful and wear your seatbelt.  Too many people too often do not wear seatbelts in cities or quick taxi rides.  Had we not used seatbelts that day, we would of ended up with our luggage, below the overpass.  A very kind homeless man living under the overpass actually returned all our belongings to us in the midst of all the chaos.  I wish I could have thanked him but it was a bit of a blur.  

I also share this story to point out that too often people drive on autopilot.  I believe being early in the a.m., with not too many cars on the road, my driver was moseying along, at only 50 mph, but kind of just looking ahead.  Not mindful enough of all that was around us and approaching from behind at 80 mph swerving in and out of lanes.  We all know those kinds of drivers.  It is not cool to speed, cut off cars and swerve in and out of lanes.  That is wreckless.  But I still see this kind of driving on the parkways all too often.  And thus, as drivers, we must be mindful not to drive on autopilot.   Be aware of your surroundings at all times.

Mindfulness, being in the present moment, is the safest way to drive.  Of course I am not talking about meditation but being aware of your senses such as what you see and what you hear.  Most people often admit to arriving at their destinations having no memory of actually driving there because their mind was not present while driving.  Drivers get lost in talking to their passengers, on their Bluetooth, listening to music or just lost in thought.  It is truly important to keep your focus on the road and the experience of driving rather than engaging in distracting activities.  Allow extra time to get to your destinations and be mindful to use your rear view mirrors.  I hope this serves as a reminder to be mindful.  

For information about seatbelt safety go to

Shari LaRosa, licensed social worker, has her Masters in Social Work from Monmouth University, and a Bachelors and Masters in Education from Boston University, and Hunter College.  Shari, a busy mom, lives in Holmdel with her husband Adam and two teenage daughters.  She has fostered friendships and learning among women in the area through her group The W Forum which focused on many topics relevant to women, parenting and relationships. Most recently working as a clinician for adolescents, she maintains her passion for helping others.



The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Guest Column.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Berkeley Heights

Berkeley Heights’ Women of the Week (WoW) Series features Beth Ferris Sale

March 18, 2018

In honor of the women who are driving change, blazing trails and nurturing society, the Berkeley Heights Diversity Council is pleased to announce an exciting initiative called, Women of the Week (WoW) Series. In the spirit of community, we wanted to honor the women right here in Berkeley Heights who are impacting the world in their own way for the remaining weeks of Women’s History ...

Local Top Cops, Government Officials Helping 'March for Meals' Program

March 19, 2018

SUMMIT, NJ - Elected and Law Enforcement officials along with volunteers are joining SAGE Eldercare this month as it participates in the 16th annual March for Meals – a month-long, nationwide partnership of local community organizations, businesses, government officials and caring individuals, who come together to ensure that homebound and ...

Union County Students to 'March for Our Lives' Saturday in Union

UNION, NJ – Students from all over Union County will be walking from Burnet Middle School to Town Hall on Saturday morning, March 24, in an anti-gun violence march.

Led by steering committee chairman Colin Sumner, the march, which has the support of Senator Joseph Cryan, Moms Demand Action, Union County Chapter, and the Union County Freeholders, is not aimed at taking away guns, but ...

2018 Gov. Livingston Highlander Softball Clinic Set for March 19

Come join and learn from the 2017 Union County Softball Champion Gov. Livingston coaches and varsity players on Monday, March 19, 2018 from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Activities will include the following fastpitch softball skills:

Batting Techniques
Throwing Mechanics
Base Running

Who: Children grades 1-7 of any skill level or ability

Where: Gov. Livingston High School, 175 ...

Mount Carmel Breakfast with the Easter Bunny, Sunday, March 25

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Mount Carmel Society is hosting a Breakfast with the Easter Bunny on Sunday, March 25 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 56 River Road in Berkeley Heights with an Easter Egg Hunt at 11 a.m. (weather permitting).

The all you can eat buffet includes pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, bagels, donuts and muffins and a cash bar will serve Mimosas and Bloody ...

NPHS Student's Response to After School Walk-out Plan at NPHS

March 14, 2018

A group of students file into a science classroom amid a nervous din of chatter, the air is electric with excitement and nervousness. This small group of approximately 30 students are a studious bunch, largely members of the sophomore class with squeaky clean administrative histories. They are currently preparing to defy authority and stand up for what they believe in, even though they had been ...

New Providence's Allen W. Roberts School Gets Security Walk Through by Police Department after Bomb Threat

March 12, 2018

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - The New Providence Police Department sent a letter to parents and guardians of students at Allen W. Roberts Elementary School after a non-specific bomb threat was reported on Monday afternoon.

It's the second threat  reported at a New Providence school in March. The first threat was reported on March 5th at New Providence High School.

Emergency ...

Avon Loses Its Last ‘Grand’ Hotel to the Claw of an Excavator

March 17, 2018

AVON-BY-THE-SEA, NJ — In less than two days, an Avon-by-the-Sea landmark that stood for 130 years was reduced to a huge pile of rubble. The Norwood Inn no longer stands on the corner of Norwood and Second Avenues — the last of the stately hotels that once graced the streets of Avon.

As onlookers gathered around the demolition site on March 15 and March 16, an excavator clawed its ...

Upcoming Events


Mon, March 19, 6:30 PM

Gov. Livingston High School Blue and Red gyms, Berkeley Heights

2018 Gov. Livingston Highlander Softball Clinic ...


Mon, March 19, 7:00 PM

Cranford Community Center, Cranford

Agents of Change: Women in NJ History



Mon, March 19, 7:30 PM

Columbia Middle School Multi-purpose Room, Berkeley Heights

Berkeley Heights Board of Education: Monday's ...


Tue, March 20, 7:30 PM

Mountain Park School, Berkeley Heights

Boy Scout Open House - Troop 368

Education Giving Back

Wed, March 21, 5:30 PM

Great Swamp Watershed Association, Morristown

Coffee & Tea Tasting - FREE GSWA Event

Arts & Entertainment Education Food & Drink

JCP&L Representative Describes Utility’s Actions During Storm Quinn, Answers Residents' Questions

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – The format of this week’s  Berkeley Heights 'Here and Now' was turned on its head this week. Mayor Bob Woodruff reviewed what happened in the township following Storm Quinn and its predecessor Storm Riley, complete with statistics. He then asked a representative of JCP&L questions about the utility’s response, and how it was ...

Berkeley Heights, Here and Now: Redevelopment Updates

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Mayor's Round Table has been rebranded to "Berkeley Heights, Here and Now." This new format will continue to provide updates from Mayor Bob Woodruff, municipal offices and the Communications Committee want to hear from citizens, businesses and community organizations.

Included in this episode, Mayor Bob Woodruff addresses the status of the ...

You Want a Check for How Much!

 My first admissions gig was working for a small liberal arts college with a pretty hefty price tag.  Picture me at a college fair: name tag in place, pile of brochures ready to go.  An eager family would walk up and we’d start a conversation.  One of the first questions I’d get from parents was about cost and the moment that $50,000-plus figure left my mouth I ...

Now That The Dust Has Settled…Smart Tax Moves In 2018

Now that the dust has settled, here are some smart tax moves to lower your taxes and/or avoid higher taxes/penalties in 2018. These steps may be especially helpful if you live in high property and high income tax states (e.g. New Jersey, New York, California) since state and local tax deductions are capped.  Unfortunately all these changes mean you’ll need more time and energy to ...