Sunday, March 14, 2010

Article in the Seguin Gazette-Enterprise

Thank you to Ron Maloney for his great article in today's Seguin Gazette-Enterprise. Our accident occurred right outside of Seguin, and he has covered our story from the beginning. I am so glad he reached out to me this week, and know that this article will continue to help in our effort to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.

This afternoon Colleen and I were at the park enjoying the amazingly beautiful day.  A woman approached me, and said that she had made her 18 year old son sit down and watch my interview on KBTX, and that she had made him promise not to drive distracted again.  She is just one of the hundreds of people who has stopped me, emailed me, or sent me a Facebook message to let me know how our story has inspired them to put their cell phones down while they are driving.  When I posted my blog last Monday, I would have never expected that our story would touch so many lives - especially those of complete strangers.  But, as I said before, I know that God has a plan for my life, and I feel absolutely confident that this is all part of his plan.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Interview on local news tonight

Today I was interviewed for the Bryan-College Station local news as part of a piece they ran tonight on distracted driving.  Although recounting our story was difficult, God has given me incredible strength this week.  I feel a great sense of purpose when I tell our story as a way to help raise awareness to stop distracted driving.  As I wrote in a previous entry, I have been praying daily for strength, serenity, patience and purpose, and God is faithfully answering my prayers.

The reporter who wrote the story is one of the anchors - Meredith Stancik.  She did a fantastic job, and the result is a moving, compelling story that I know will have a positive impact on our community.  I sincerely appreciate her taking an interest in our family and this issue.  You can click the link below to read the full-text, and watch the video clip that was shown at 10 pm on KBTX.

I thank God for the opportunities He is presenting for our family to help raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.   I know that He is using our story to save lives, and to save other families from the pain and loss we have experienced.  As I say in the interview, I miss Chris, more than words could ever express, but I just keep loving him - and I know that he is with us.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A powerful message, and amazing grace

I have been humbled and amazed by the response to my blog entry on Monday. To everyone who has reposted the message, sent emails, talked to their friends and family, and pledged to never drive distracted again: you are saving lives, which honors Chris’ memory in a beautiful way - thank you!  I said in one of my earlier blogs that, even in the face of such a tragedy, it is impossible not to see God's hand in my life.  I am in awe of how he is using our story to touch, change, and to save lives. 

Last night I was in my childhood room in Corpus Christi - scanning the bookshelves for an easy read.  I do this a lot when I am home:  I pick out an old book - something I loved as a kid - and read it sporadically during my stay.  I usually end up with one of the C.S. Lewis Narnia books, or Anne of Green Gables...but last night my eyes feel on a book I hadn't seen before.  It was on my twin sister's bookshelf, and the title is, "What's so Amazing about Grace?".  I opened the jacket, and inside was the name of my late maternal grandmother,  Nancy Lang.  Nancy, my Nana, passed away in the summer of 2003 - right before Chris and I started dating.  I always wished that she would have lived to see how happy we were, how happy he made me, and what a beautiful life that we had as a family.

The book is about grace - how nothing we do here on earth can earn us God's love. God's love is given to us freely and without condition - completely by his grace.  For the last few weeks, I have seen God's grace in my life.  Putting my trust in him has kept me going through the last 10 weeks.  Saying, "God, I trust you.  I trust that you are with me always, and that you will never forsake me.  I trust that your plan, your timing, is perfect - even though it may not spare me from pain."  I saw Nana's name in that book, and knew this was another little gift from God. It was his way of saying- "See?  Look around you?  Do you see how I am leading you?  Helping you find you way through this valley?  Trust me, I know the way."

Someday, I will tell Colleen about the last 24 hours.  How I felt God with me, giving me courage to tell our story.  How people were moved by it, touched by it, enough to share it with others all over the world.  That our story helped people to make a decision that is hard, but that could save lives.  I pray that by the time Colleen is able to drive that we will look back and be shocked that we, as a culture, did not realize the danger of our behaviors sooner.  Until then, please continue to tell our story, keep your eyes on the road, and take time each day to open your heart to God's grace in your life.  

Monday, March 8, 2010

Honor Chris today - Pledge to never drive distracted again

Today is Chris' birthday.  He would have been 35.  It would have been his first birthday that Colleen would actually remember.  It would have been a day filled with joy, laughter, and Chris' infectious,  beaming smile. While every day is hard, today is especially heartbreaking.

I have not described the car accident that took his life in detail in these notes.  Today I am ready.  Today I want to tell you all about how you can honor Chris by helping to avoid the type of accident that caused two people to lose their lives on December 29, 2009.

On that day, Chris and I were driving from Corpus Christi to Dallas to be with his sister - who was in labor with her first baby.  We were having a great time in the car.  We were so happy about being able to be in Dallas for little Sophie's birth.  Chris had just won his fantasy football league championship.  Colleen was safe at home in Corpus with my parents.  Our weekend could not have been any better.  We stopped for food in Seguin, and were continuing our trip on Highway 123 between Seguin and San Marcos.  I remember being in the car with Chris, talking about Colleen and our great weekend...laughing and joking like we always did.  The next thing I remember is hearing voices, and thinking to myself - "They are talking to me.  I need to wake up".

I don't remember anything about the accident, but the the officer who investigated our case was incredibly thorough. Here is what he found:

On that day, an 18 year old girl drove from Seguin to San Marcos to purchase a car - a 1990 Jeep Cherokee.  She was driving home, following a car with a few of her family members.  As she drove, she was using her iPhone.

On Highway 123, she got distracted by her phone, and didn't anticipate a curve in the roadway.  She was in the right hand lane, and started to veer towards a guardrail on her right.  When she looked up from her iPhone, she overcorrected, and jerked her wheel to the left.  She crossed three lanes of traffic on the undivided highway at over 70 miles an hour and slammed directly into our car. There were no skid marks - she was too distracted to try to stop or avoid our car.

The officers found an active text message on her iPhone after the accident.  The police report officially states that she was "using her cell phone".  She was not wearing a seatbelt, and was ejected from the car.  The ejection ripped off most of her clothes.  She was not drunk - but she was under the influence. She was under the influence of the untrue belief that it is possible to drive and use a cell phone at the same time.

We all think that we can.  We all think that we are good enough drivers to be able to text, read and write email, surf the internet, and make calls while we are driving.  Chris did.  I did.  The 18 year old girl who hit us that day did.  And I would bet that most of you reading do.  The truth is: we can't.  No one can.  It doesn't matter if you are 16 or 45, using a cell phone while you are driving is too distracting to risk.

I know you are thinking - "There is no way I can give it up.  I am a good enough driver.  I have years of experience.  It will never happen to me."  I am here to tell you - it can.

Chris was not on his phone during the accident.  He was not distracted, and his focus allowed him to see the oncoming car, and maneuver our car quickly to the right before the impact.  That maneuver, the last thing that he did, saved my life.

Today, on his birthday, I ask you to honor Chris' memory by pledging to never drive distracted again.  Honor his memory by never riding in a car with someone who is driving distracted again.  Every time someone texts you, or calls while you are driving, think to yourself, "Is sending this text worth risking my life?  Is taking this call worth risking the life of another driver?"  No call, no text, no email, was worth losing two lives on that day.

My heart aches for the family of the girl who also died that day.  She didn't think that she was doing anything wrong.  She never had a chance to live her life.  I mourn for her, just as I do for Chris.

I ask you today to pledge in memory of Chris to never let your phone distract you while you are driving again.  For your own sake, and for the other drivers around you - do not take the chance that your actions could take another life or your own.

Chris was a wonderful husband, amazing father, loving son and brother, and fiercely loyal friend.  There is not a minute in a day that I don't think about him.  I miss him desperately.  But, Colleen and I are living our life.  We laugh and smile and enjoy the blessed moments that we have together every day.  We thank God for the time we had with Chris, and trust in God that he has not left us, and will never leave us alone.

Here are some links for more information on the dangers of distracted driving, and what you can do to help: