On April 26, Cara Restelli left her post as lead investigative and consumer reporter at KY3 News – where she worked since 2006.
She’s not giving up, however, her efforts to protect area consumers.
Restelli began working May 2 as the director of community outreach at the Better Business Bureau of Southwest Missouri. She says she’ll still be investigating businesses, particularly if they don’t respond to claims lodged against them with the bureau, and digging into business trends.
“For example, everyone is buying gold now, and they all say they’re going to give you the best price. What I would do at KY3 – and what I will now be doing at the Better Business Bureau – is going out and investigating those claims (to) find out what they really do offer,” she says. “Instead of going on the air with that story, I would write up a news release and send it to the news stations.”
As a consumer and investigative reporter, Restelli says her priority was to be an advocate for the community.
“I have reported countless stories that have alerted the Springfield community to unknown hazards that can hurt them and their children, scams that could cost them thousands of dollars and laws that aren’t being fully enforced,” she says.
Restelli earned 13 Missouri Broadcaster’s Awards, two Mid-America Emmy Awards and the Edward R. Murrow Award from the Regional Radio Television and News Directors Association during her time at KY3.
Her stories about fire safety earned her the title of honorary firefighter from the Springfield Fire Department.
She is most proud, however, of uncovering serious safety issues for children who ride local school buses.
In May 2003, 9-year-old Dalton Hickson was hit and killed by a driver who failed to stop for the school bus stop arm.
At the time, Restelli said many people treated the tragedy as an isolated incident, but she wasn’t convinced.
“I rode along on dozens of school buses and saw countless drivers running school bus stop arms,” she said. “I also spoke to Dalton’s mom, who agreed to interview with me because she believed it would help save other children.”
As a result of the story, which nabbed a Mid-America Emmy, Restelli says police began riding on buses to catch stop violators and taught bus drivers how to collect enough information so drivers who fail to stop can be ticketed.
At KY3, Restelli supervised and mentored interns and younger reporters.
Educating others is a key part of her work at Better Business Bureau, through seminars helping consumers avoid scams or identity theft.
She’ll also use speaking engagements at trade and networking groups to teach businesses how to avoid consumer complaints.Click here for full coverage of the 2011 40 Under 40.