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'This bill will save lives' | This Georgia mother is pushing to combat preventable deaths at colleges nationwide

After her son suffered a near-fatal accident at a local college, she is pushing for a new law that greatly promotes student safety at universities.

ATLANTA — College classes are back in full swing and kids have flocked back to campuses nationwide.

As students are getting geared back up for the new semester, a local mom is pushing for legislation that will keep those kids safe across the country.

The Corey Safety Act was just introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives. The goal of this act is simple – to try to protect and inform families about the dangers on campus that they may not see.

This bill would force colleges and universities alike to report accidental deaths and serious injuries that could have been prevented at school. One local mom says right now families are missing critical information, and she almost paid an irreparable price.

The Jacob family almost lost their son Clark to a freak accident in 2015. While attending school at Georgia Tech, Clark fell out of a lofted bed in his dorm room and sustained a traumatic brain injury, in addition to suffering a stroke. The Shepherd Center quickly became home for the Jacobs. He was in a coma for two-and-a-half months. 

Credit: Mariellen Jacob

"We didn't know if he would come out of that or not," Clark's mom, Mariellen, said. "We prayed every day and watched every little sign and cheered on every little thumb wiggle and toe wiggle."

Back in 2015, safety rails on bunk beds were not mandatory.

"The worst thing about this whole thing that happened to my son is that it was 100% preventable," Mariellen said. 

Credit: Mariellen Jacob
Student dorm room bunk beds at Georgia Tech

Her son survived, and graduated college, but through her fight to improve safety on college campuses across the country, she met many families whose kids didn't make it. She joined with five other mothers who lost their children to accidents at college to form the College Safety Coalition to try and get information about accidents at school.

"We started realizing that there must be other people out here who felt the way we felt – blindsided by a tragedy in our family that was preventable," she said.

Mariellen said that colleges are required by the Clery Act of 1990 to report crime and fire data, but she said that only comprises roughly .05% of deaths on college campuses, whereas preventable accidents at schools are at approximately 10.8%. That study from the American College Health Association proves accidents are the leading cause of death for college students in the U.S.

"This bill will save lives," she said.

Credit: Mariellen Jacob

The Jacobs are already getting tons of support for the bill here in Georgia, as Congresswoman Lucy McBath has already endorsed it. They also have the support of the Shepard Center and Emory – hospitals that deal with the fallout from these accidents every day.

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