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Lutzie 43
June 26, 2023

Categories: 43 Key Seconds ,Philip Lutzenkirchen

Carrying the Mission of #43 – Bill Butler

Thank you to our Lutzie 43 Foundation Operations Director and dear friend of the Lutzenkirchen family, Bill Butler, for authoring this blog post in memory of Philip Lutzenkirchen on the anniversary of his passing, June 29, 2014.

June 29, 2014.  That day started happily for our family.  My wife Laurie and I were returning from a fun weekend in Charleston, South Carolina with our son Will, his wife Emily and other family.  Our daughter Josey and her husband, Brian were settling into newlywed life in Clarkesville, Georgia having just celebrated two months of marriage. 

All was good, until it wasn’t.

The Butler and Lutzenkirchen kids back in 2012

While driving back to Marietta, Georgia from our weekend in Charleston, South Carolina, we got the call from Mary Lutzenkirchen that changed the lives of people very dear to us. Philip was gone.  Philip, who along with his sisters Amy, Ann, and Abby grew up down the street from my family. The Lutzenkirchen kids played with our daughter Josey and son Will – growing up enjoying Sunday dinners, vacationing together, and always laughing and doing silly stuff kids do.  Gone.

If you have been following the Lutzie 43 Foundation, you probably know the story behind its mission.  Philip was an “unrestrained” passenger in a tragic crash where the driver was driving distracted, unsafe and impaired – going out late in the night for a gas station run. Unrestrained.  What does that mean?  Philip wasn’t wearing his seat belt.  Something so basic that most of us do without thinking, but that trip Philip didn’t “Click it”. Choosing not to do such a basic, mindless thing and Philip was gone. Just like that. 

What good can come from this tragedy?  Thanks to Mike, Mary and the Lutzenkirchen girls, a lot of good has come from it.  Don’t misunderstand, they would gladly change things if they could, but they have taken something horrific and used it to bless others by creating the Lutzie 43 Foundation. The Lutzie 43 Foundation that partners with the Georgia Department of Transportation, corporations, schools, and other organizations to end distracted, impaired, and unsafe driving.  The foundation that has awarded almost $380,000 in PFL (Prepared for Life) Scholarships to 93 recipients. The foundation that originated the 43 Key Seconds safe driving initiative.  All to end distracted, impaired, and unsafe driving.  A simple strategy but so difficult to accomplish.  Why? 

Because although Georgia enforces a hands-free while driving state law (whereas our neighboring states in Alabama and South Carolina do not), people still reach for and use their phones while driving.  Drivers are constantly distracted and operate their car in an unsafe manner while texting, eating, talking to friends, changing the music, etc. 

Until we change the habits of drivers, deaths from distracted, impaired, and unsafe driving will sadly continue.  That’s what Mike Lutzenkirchen and the Lutzie 43 Foundation are fighting for – changing behaviors of drivers behind the wheel so that what happened to Philip doesn’t happen to others. The foundation’s 43 Key Seconds safe driving initiative and physical 43 Key Seconds key aim to be the first national symbol to create awareness around distracted, impaired, and unsafe driving.  The key is a physical and visible reminder to take 43 Key Seconds when getting behind the wheel of a vehicle to have a Clear Head, Clear Hands, Clear Eyes and then to always Click your seatbelt.  It is such a simple strategy, but so hard to change behaviors, and we encourage you to take 43 Key Seconds every time you operate a vehicle.

Please join our family and friends in remembering Philip and the Lutzenkirchen family on June 29.