Johnny Esau

Johnny Esau, 1950-2018

Johnny Esau brought charm and brightness to his work as a Turn Off Texting presenter and made hundreds of Vermont’s young drivers safer with his kind instruction. We are sad to report that he lost his battle with leukemia and passed on January 9.

Here is Johnny’s obituary, from the Brattleboro Reformer:

John D. Esau of Marlboro, VT and Lake Rescue, Ludlow, VT passed away on January 9, 2018 after a graceful, courageous battle with Acute Myeloid Leukemia.

Johnny was born on September 4, 1950 in New York, NY. He was raised in Port Washington, NY by his loving parents, John W. Esau and Norma Bonelli Esau. In the Fall of 1975 he married his best friend, Joanne Sehnal Esau and in February of 1983 his daughter Corey was born, fulfilling his life beyond measure.

Johnny graduated from Paul D. Schreiber High School in Port Washington, NY and Saint Michael’s College in Burlington, VT where he was a member of the SMC Choir. Soon after he attended Keene State College to earn an Education Degree.

He entered the teaching profession at Wyndham Elementary School as a Teaching Principal. For much of his career he had the privilege and joy of teaching at the Marlboro Elementary School. He also taught at Reading Elementary and served as the Turn off Texting presenter for the Vermont Governor’s Highway Safety Council. While at Marlboro Elementary he coordinated the building of the Johnny Esau Covered Bridge and co directed the annual school musicals. His classroom was know as a place filled with music, laughter, hammering and creative chaos.

He sang with the Blanche Moyse Chorale. Later his joyful voice joined the Brattleboro Music Center Chorus where he assumed the role of “chief mischief maker”. He was a member of the Marlboro Fire Department and sat on the board of directors of the Vermont Covered Bridge Society. Johnny enjoyed laughing, being with friends, building, boating, beaches, metal detecting, his truck’s GARLIC license plate and Italian food. He spent hours working on his wooden boat “Knock On Wood”. He adored his Golden Retrievers but in the end it was his little dog Tucker who was his constant companion.

He was predeceased by his parents Norma and Jack Esau. Johnny is survived by: his wife of 42 years, Joanne Sehnal Esau; his daughter and son-in-law Corey and Julian Jaworski of Quechee, VT; his brother and sister-in-law Raymond and Kathy Sehnal of Pomfret, VT; sisters Cynthia (Anthony) Jerolino of Cavendish, VT and Lisabeth (Edward) Fisher of Malvern, PA as well as many cousins, nieces, nephews and a grand niece and nephew.

Johnny was exceptionally proud of his Italian heritage. He adored his grandparents, “Papa and Nannie” and held his Bonelli cousins close to his heart. He was also predeceased by his birth mother, Mary Massucci, who’s identity he discovered in the last year of his life. He was lovingly embraced by his newly found Masucci cousins and his niece, Denise Renda and her husband Denis of Northport, NY and Grafton VT.

In his struggle with Leukemia Johnny showed his family the depth of his love and taught us the way to live a life of gratitude. His family and friends returned his love, giving generously of their time and resources for which he was forever thankful. We are in awe of the spirit of the nursing and medical staff who cared for Johnny at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, Grace Cottage Rehabilitation and most especially, Dr. Andrew Brunner and his Team at Massachusetts General Hospital.

In honor of Johnny we ask that you please give the gift of your time or your resources to a family that is caring for a loved one with Cancer.

A Mass of Christian Burial will take place on Saturday, January 27, 2018 at 11:00 AM, at St. Anthony’s Parish in White River Junction. A gathering of friends and family will take place immediately following at The Quechee Club, Quechee, VT.
Published in Brattleboro Reformer on Jan. 12, 2018

“Be the driver you want your teen to be”

Youth Safety Council Director James Lockridge Receives Award

Governor’s Highway Safety Program Names Lifesaver of the Year

The Governor’s Highway Safety Program recently presented its annual ‘Lifesaver of the Year’ award to James Lockridge, Executive Director of the Youth Safety Council of Vermont. The award was presented by Governor Phil Scott, GHSP Chief Keith Flynn, Vermont Motor Vehicle Commissioner Robert Ide and GHSP Financial Manager Allison Laflamme at a ceremony during the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance Annual Meeting on November 8.

The Governor’s Highway Safety Program facilitates and supports, with federal grants, a statewide network to promote safe driving behavior on Vermont highways. As part of the VTrans family, a main purpose of the GHSP is to save lives through creative, highly visible, innovative, and effective highway safety programs for all modes of transportation.

Robert D. Ide, Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles, said, “This award is presented to Jim Lockridge in recognition of his outstanding ability to motivate others and build, nurture and support programs and partnerships within the highway safety community.”

Lockridge inspired and documented the production of a school-wide safety fair at Mt. Abraham Union High School in Bristol, publishing a ‘how-to’ manual so other Vermont schools would be empowered to pursue similar initiatives. The Safety Fair guide can be found at Lockridge coordinates ‘Turn Off Texting.’ a statewide program that visits high schools to provide a first-hand demonstration of the danger of distracted driving.

VT Deaths

A Time to Remember Lives Lost to Impaired Drivers

On Tuesday, December 5 join us at the Vermont State House for a special annual ceremony, 4:30-6pm in the House Chamber. Organized by the Community Justice Network of Vermont, this community gathering is to remember the lives lost by impaired driving, and collectively comfort everyone impacted. For more information, please see the flyer and visit the Facebook event page.

VT Deaths

A Helpful Explanation of Winter vs. Summer Tires (Stay Safe this Holiday Season!)

A Fresh Safety Video from The Vermont Highway Safety Alliance!


Free Txt U L8R Program at UVM Medical Center, Oct. 16

October 15-21st is National Teen Driver Safety Week. To promote teen driver safety, UVM Medical Center is offering the Txt U L8R program to students and their families. Everyone is encouraged to participate!

Texting while driving has quickly become one of the greatest hazards on the road. It causes 1.6 million car crashes and 330,000 injuries per year, and approximately seven teen deaths every single day. That’s why the UVM Medical Center and the Clinical Simulation Laboratory at the UVM College of Medicine created “TXT U L8R” a unique program designed to discourage individuals from texting while driving.

Key elements include a demonstration of an advanced driving simulator, presentation of a realistic trauma scenario, a testimonial from the victim of an accident caused by a teen driver who was texting, and a demonstration of several smartphone apps designed to prevent texting while driving.

The TXT U L8R event is Monday, October 16th, 6pm-7:30pm at UVM Medical Center, UVM Medical Education Pavilion, Sullivan Classroom. Register at: Funding is available to assist with transportation costs. Contact Christina Keating,

Christian Franchino

Christian Franchino Joins YSCVT Team

The YSCVT welcomes Christian Franchino to our staff as an intern from Champlain College. Christian is working toward a Bachelor of Broadcast and Streaming Media degree and joins us with videography and audio editing skills. Our outreach efforts will improve as Christian updates our driver educator contacts and begins producing content for social media and television. He’ll also bring important skills to the audio-visual messages of the Aftermath project. Thanks for being on the team, Christian!

Mock crash with firefighters

New Web Site Helps VT Schools Host Safety Fairs; Grant Program Offered

BURLINGTON: July 24, 2017 The Youth Safety Council of Vermont in collaboration with Mt. Abraham Union High School has published a how-to guide for Vermont high schools that describes how Mt. Abe produced a campus-wide safety fair:

On Friday, May 5 Mt. Abraham Union High School hosted presentations by numerous organizations, creating a day-long, campus-wide event with a ‘personal safety’ theme for 400 students in grades 9-12. The fair, developed through the school year by faculty and students in partnership with the Youth Safety Council of Vermont, showcased safety knowledge from across the state.

The safety fair presented more than 25 workshops, presentations and speakers indoors and out. Participants in the fair included the Vermont State Police presenting forensic crash reconstruction techniques; a motorcycle simulator shared by Ride Safe VT, and Sharon Huntley speaking about the tragic loss of her teen son, Spencer, in a distraction-related crash. The Youth Safety Council presented ‘Turn Off Texting,’ with students driving a golf cart while texting to learn first-hand how dangerous distracted driving can be. Many organizations including the Vermont Department of Health, UVM Medical Center, Alive at 25, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, AAA Northern New England, AT&T, WomenSafe, Fire Pro Tec, Bristol Rescue, Bristol Police, and others presented information and interacted with students. A mock crash was the central educational experience of the fair, presented by the Mt. Abraham students in conjunction with Bristol Fire, Police and Rescue Departments.

With the assistance of Heritage Toyota, faculty, students and volunteers helped document the event to create the new online reference guide. The new guide is intended to help other Vermont high schools produce similar safety fairs with confidence and easy access to many freely available safety programs.

Heritage Toyota has also created a grant program to encourage Vermont schools to produce their own safety fairs. For any schools who would like to offer a safety fair in the 2017-2018 academic year, Heritage Toyota is proud to offer a $250 grant incentive. The purpose of the grant is to fund the efforts of the schools to plan an educational event focused on teen driving safety. Interested schools can visit to fill out the form and start the process. Bethany Sargent, Marketing Manager of Heritage Automotive Group said, “We are so proud to help schools bring important safety information to their students. Being committed to our communities means being committed to the health and well-being of our next generation of drivers. We feel fortunate to be able to get involved and support schools with this endeavor.”

Sharon Koller, Student Assistance Program Counselor at Mt. Abraham and advisor to the student “VTLSP” club (Vermont Teen Leadership Safety Program), facilitated the event planning. James Lockridge, Executive Director of the Youth Safety Council of Vermont, said, “Mt. Abraham has contributed energy and wisdom to help schools across Vermont guide their students toward safe decision-making, behind the wheel and in their daily lives. The school and community came together like champions to create this new empowering resource. The experience makes us proud to serve such a caring and proactive state.”

The project was inspired by the work of the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance (VHSA), a non-profit organization that brings together highway safety stakeholders from all over Vermont, including state agencies and law enforcement as well as federal partners, insurance companies, and nonprofit organizations, Glen Button, Chair of the VHSA, said, “This initiative clearly shows the positive results from the collaboration amongst our many highway safety partners. The all-day safety fair at Mount Abraham High School was a great success and has set the standard for all Vermont high schools to achieve. The how-to-guide will help schools meet this goal.”

Contact: James Lockridge,, (802) 881-9050

About Mt. Abraham Union High School: Mt. Abraham is a Grades 7-12 public middle/high school in the village of Bristol, serving the Five Town district of Bristol, Lincoln, Monkton, New Haven, and Starksboro. Mt. Abraham is part of the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union (ANESU) and works to create and maintain a stimulating and respectful environment in which all are engaged, all pursue and promote learning, and all participate as active, responsible citizens.

About the Youth Safety Council of VT: The YSCVT uses golf carts and an advanced driving simulator to demonstrate the dangers of distraction to Vermont’s student drivers. With support from the Governor’s Highway Safety Program and sponsors, the ‘Turn Off Texting’ program is free to high schools and community groups statewide.

About Heritage Toyota: As part of the Heritage Automotive Group, Heritage Toyota has been a part of the Vermont community since 1994. Known for Toyota sales and service, Heritage Toyota is committed to creating the best quality customer experience as well as contributing to the health, safety and success of the communities in which they do business.

Photo: A mock crash at the Mt. Abraham UHS safety fair. Photo by Leeya Tudek.

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