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Friends' Deaths Prompt Brooklyn Teen To Launch 'Vision Zero Youth Council'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A Brooklyn teen is taking action after several of her classmates died within months of each other.

In October 2013, Sammy Cohen-Eckstein, 12, was struck and killed by a van. Months later, Joie Sellers, 12, was hit and killed. Then 14-year-old Mohammad Uddin was killed by a hit-and-run driver.

"You hit that breaking point and there's something that you feel that you have to do," Alison Collard De Beaufort told CBS2's Alice Gainer.

De Beaufort founded the Vision Zero Youth Council. When Eckstein died she went around tying teddy bears along a street to remind drivers to slow down.

After the passing of Sellers and Uddin, she wanted to do more.

"She emailed me and said you might remember we met when Sammy died, but now this is the third of my classmates from 51 killed. I have to do something," said Councilman Brad Lander (D-39th).

Councilman Lender put De Beaufort in touch with the families of victims as well as the DOT and other agencies. The end result was the Vision Zero Youth Council.

A makeshift memorial for Eckstein still stands. The ultimate goal of the new group is to make sure they never have to make another memorial.

The group is a youth division of New York City's 'Vision Zero' initiative, with the goal of program to eliminate all traffic fatalities.

Eckstein's mother successfully lobbied state lawmakers to lower the city's speed limit from 30 to 25. It's work like that De Beaufort wants to get her classmates involved with.

"To raise awareness for traffic safety, get more students involved in creating safer streets," De Beaufort said, "It's something I feel strongly for. It's something that can't be ignored."

De Beaufort said she cannot stand by and lose another classmate to something she believes can be prevented with others' help.

About 30 people attended the group's first meeting two-weeks-ago.


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