Capt. Tom Didone teaches safe driving after death of teenage son

Photo: ABC7

ROCKVILLE, Md. (WJLA) - The winter holiday season is one of the busiest and most dangerous times on the road, especially for teenagers.

For one Montgomery County Police officer, a personal tragedy provides an opportunity to teach teens about safe driving. While Capt. Thomas Didone knows what he's doing is very painful for him, he finds it tremendously important.

Five years ago, his own 15-year-old son was killed in a crash. The driver of the car was speeding.

To this day, Didone shares his son's story to show students why they and their friends need to drive safely.

"My son made a mistake that day and he got into the car of a brand new driver," Didone said. "And as young, inexperienced drivers do, he was driving too fast on a country road, late at night, with a car full of kids."

The car Didone's son was riding in went off the road, hit a tree and burst into flames. That message seemed to sink in for students at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School.

"It makes me feel like it could happen to me every single time I go in a car with someone else," student Gabriel Swagel said.

Capt. Didone says he will keep sharing his nightmare in hopes of sparing other parents the pain he still suffers.

He was actually teaching safe driving for years before his son was killed, and his mother was a driving instructor, going to show that if it can happen to them, it can happen to anyone.