Students remember automobile accident victim with safety belt awareness campaign

BLACKSBURG, Va., March 23, 2007 – Nearly four years ago, Virginia Tech student Ashley Ryan Krueger was killed in an automobile accident when she was thrown from the vehicle she was riding in because she was not wearing her seat belt. Since then, members of Krueger’s sorority, Delta Zeta, have partnered with members of her brother fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon, to honor her memory with The A.R.K. Project--a safety belt awareness campaign held on the Virginia Tech campus and surrounding community each spring.

The A.R.K. Project stands for Krueger’s initials and “Always Remember to Klick it,” a phrase created for the campaign. Members of Delta Zeta and Sigma Phi Epsilon will set up five booths on the Drillfield each day from Monday, April 2 through Friday, April 6. Each booth will distribute free informational packets about safety belt usage; sell air fresheners and key chains; accept donations; and have students and community members sign pledges to wear their safety belts.

Each year The A.R.K. Project also hosts AshFest, a concert named in Krueger’s memory. This year the concert features Sensations, a female a cappella group comprised of Virginia Tech students, and the local band, Stars Fell On. The concert takes place at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 4 at Top of the Stairs, located in downtown Blacksburg, and is open to all students and community members. Admission is $5 and donations are welcome.

Krueger’s family will travel to Blacksburg for AshFest, as they have for all the previous A.R.K. Project. Ashley's father, Scott Krueger, of Stephens City, Va. said, "It's something we really want to be a part of. It's been very fulfilling for us. It's a way to keep her memory alive and we're very happy and proud to be able to do it.

"It's no secret that if Ashley had her seat belt on, she would be here today, and that's the connection with the student body," Krueger said. "If we can start the habit of seat belt wearing earlier, it will be longer lasting and more successful. With the scholarship it's also nice to be able to give back to those who have given their time and energy and shown that they care. Thus far we've been able to award over $25,000 in scholarships through the efforts at Virginia Tech and in the Stephens City area, and that's very rewarding personally and a great way to keep her memory alive."

Proceeds from the campaign are used in a variety of ways. A portion is donated to the Center for Applied Behavior Systems’ “Click-it-or-ticket” program, which provides research about safety belt use among campus drivers. The A.R.K. Project also funds the Ashley Ryan Krueger memorial scholarship, which is given to the most qualified Delta Zeta sister and Sigma Phi Epsilon brother based on academic performance and financial need. Any remaining proceeds are used to support the costs of the following year’s campaign. Last year the A.R.K. Project raised nearly $4,000 from its events.

For more information contact Eva Vaughn , or visit the Delta Zeta website and the Sigma Phi Epsilon website.

Written by Stephanie Haugen-Ray.