September 30, 2012

Sad Story of Texting and Driving

Hi everyone – I’m Bobby Augusto, an account manager on the Small Business team in San Francisco. Fifteen months ago, I lost my 20-year-old daughter, Kimberly, in a car accident that began with a text message while driving. No family should ever have to go through what my family and I went through – it was horrible. Now I’m sharing our story in hopes that it will make people think – and maybe save a life.  
Here’s what happened:  
On May 30, 2011, I had come home from vacation and I went to bed late. I got a phone call around 1 a.m. from my ex-wife. She was crying. She said Kimi had been in a horrible car accident -- and the police couldn’t even tell her if Kimi was alive.
Apparently, Kimberly had gotten a call earlier that night from a friend who needed some support. He’d applied to the Fire Academy, and he was upset because his buddy got an acceptance letter that day, but he didn’t. My daughter was a pretty soft-hearted person -- she knew he liked Slurpees, so she went down to the local 7-Eleven and picked up a Slurpee and took it to him. On her way home, this guy texted her to thank her.
She looked down at the text and she shouldn’t have. I don’t know if she was trying to reply or just had taken her eyes off the road, but it was long enough for her to get in trouble.
She ran off the right side of the highway, then tried to correct and spun back across the road, hitting the center divide. It was pitch black, no lights anywhere, and she didn’t realize that her car was now in the fast lane, facing the wrong way. She thought she was off to the side of the road – but she wasn’t.
She got on the phone, called her mom and said, “Mom, I’ve been in a car accident. My God, this is totally my fault. I’m sorry. Oh look, somebody’s coming to help.” She told her mom she saw lights coming toward her.  
The last thing my ex-wife heard on the phone was the crash.
Kimi had told her mom where she was, so my ex-wife drove out there. The car was destroyed. Kimi was killed on impact. She snapped her neck and her lower extremities were unviewable. The coroner was called and pronounced her dead.
Needless to say, we were devastated. Most of my family’s background is in law enforcement, so we see tons of this stuff happening and it’s our worst fear. Well, our worst fear came to life. 
We had a beautiful service, which 750 people attended.  She was my oldest daughter of two. No parents should ever bury their kid, ever, especially for something as stupid as a text message.
At one point I thought, there’s no way I can live another day and not make sense of this. Now I’ve decided the only way I can make sense of it is to do whatever I can to help somebody else not feel what I’m feeling. Or keep one more kid from dying this way.
My passion now is having my daughter’s legacy live on by saving somebody else’s life. And if telling our story is something I can do to help, then I’d like to do that.
Kimi and I had had a hundred conversations about not texting while driving. In fact, the last time I saw her, we were driving and her phone had beeped for a text message. And I said, “What’s that sound?” She goes, “Oh, it’s my phone. It’s under my leg.” And I said, “What do you mean?” She goes, “Well, I know you tell me all the time not to text while I’m driving, so I leave it under my leg. That way, I know to check it when I get out.” I said, “Very good. Never do that; it’s very dangerous.”
Like so many teens, she thought she was bulletproof and that it would never happen to her. She only took her eyes off the road for two seconds, and I’m sure she thought it was no problem. And it cost her her life.
And then there are those she left behind. There’s no way that she, or anyone her age, could realize the hole they would leave in other people’s lives if something happened to them. One poor decision, just two seconds, and the world will never be the same for any of her friends or family. It is so incredibly painful.
The friend who texted my daughter that night felt horrible – really horrible. He’s going through hell over this. I’ve spoken to him a few times and he said to me, “Bobby, I’m never going to get past this. I don't even know if I can go be a fireman now.”
I sat him down and said, “The best thing you can do now is go be the best fireman you can and save somebody else’s life.”
I’ve talked to groups of kids since my daughter died and I say, “How many of you are 19? How would you feel if I told you you only had 366 days to live? How would you live your life?
“Now, what if I told you that you could live longer simply by taking your phone, turning it off and putting it in the back seat? Or better yet, downloading this app that tells other people that you're driving? If I told you that you would live longer than 366 days by just doing that, would you?” And all the hands go up.
My daughter died because she wouldn’t put her phone away or download an app that tells other people you’re driving. Even if she did the right thing 999 times out of 1,000, it took just that one time for her to lose her life. Just one!
And you know what? It was just a text message…and it could have waited.

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