On March 31, 2006, high school senior Amanda Clark rolled her Chevrolet Trailblazer three times after running a stop sign and being hit by another driver. She’d been distracted at the time, talking on her cell phone. Although her SUV’s roof was caved in, Amanda was spared with only cuts and bruises. The roof just above her had remained intact.
Grateful for a second chance at life, Amanda wrote about her near-miss for a senior project at Oakdale High School in California, the Sacramento Bee reports. Her powerful words are touching even ten years later.
“I believe everything happens for a reason and the reason for my car accident is to let me know that I need to slow down and pay more attention. I know that I need to change the way I have been living my life. My phone and talking to my friends put me in danger. I realize how easy it is for my life to be over because I wasn’t paying attention.”
She also added, “I hate the thought of dying without my family knowing how I felt about them.”
In retrospect, those words are almost haunting.
For awhile, her mom Bonnye Spray says, Amanda was more careful while she was driving. “But she got more confident in her driving and a sense of ‘Hey, I survived one, I’m invincible, nothing is going to happen to me now.’”
Sadly, Amanda’s confidence got the better of her, and exactly one year to the day of her first accident, Amanda had another. She was driving in Manteca, California, and had just gotten on a highway bypass when she lost control of her vehicle and crashed.
Cell phone records show she was texting at the time of the accident.
It took first responders 40 minutes to get Amanda free from the wreckage, but by then it was too late; she’d been without oxygen for 20 minutes.
Tears flow from Bonnye Spray’s eyes even nine years later as she tells of the moment first responders told her how they’d found her daughter. She said she knew the situation was bleak, “But as a mother…I couldn’t let go, I had to hold on to any shred of hope.”
Amanda died the next day.
Now, Bonnye Spray is a grieving mother with a mission: educate other teen drivers about the dangers of talking on their cell phones and texting while driving.
“I want to tell her story,” she says. “I need for everybody to hear it, and one thing I tell teenagers is, ‘When you get in that car, think of Amanda.'”
Spray now tells Amanda’s story dozens of times per year, to groups large and small, educating people about the dangers of distracted driving. During April, National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, Amanda’s story is especially important, as are facts like these:
- You are 12 times more likely when you reach for your phone to check a text message and 16 times more likely when you respond to the text.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2013, 3,154 people were killed and about 424,000 more were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.
- Teens are among the drivers most likely to be distracted and car accidents are the number one killer of teens.
Moms, Amanda’s story is too important for us to ignore! When you’re driving, put your phone out of reach—and if you have teenage drivers, please show them the video above! Remind them of Amanda’s words:”I realize how easy it is for my life to be over because I wasn’t paying attention. I’m glad to have one more chance to prove myself.”
She did not get a third chance.
Please, if you know people who struggle with cell phone use and driving, share Amanda’s story on Facebook!