On Saturday, February 7, 2009, my 19-year-old daughter, Kristy Lee, got into her car and did all of the little things that I had taught her to do. She had gone through the entire checklist we made three years earlier when she was learning to drive:

  1. Check behind the car.
  2. Look at your tires and fill with air if needed.
  3. Click the safety belt.
  4. Check mirrors.
  5. Set the radio before you drive.
  6. Put your cell phone away.

She did everything in her power to get to her destination safely. Then the little distractions in life got in
the way. First, it was the driver of a truck that cut her off on the freeway and kept her from getting off at her intended exit. This driver’s behavior ignited a chain of events that changed my life.

At about that time, somewhere in Centerville, Utah, another driver was getting ready to travel northbound on Highway 89 through the town of Farmington. This person addressed certain safety precautions and had strapped two small children into their car seats. She buckled her seat belt and proceeded onto the two-lane road. My daughter was now traveling south on Highway 89, approaching the Centerville city limits.

The driver of the other car decided to do one more little thing. She picked up her cell phone and called her voice mail to check for messages.

This little distraction was the one thing that could have – and should have – been avoided. Distracted by her cell phone, the driver crossed the center line of the highway and crashed into my daughter’s vehicle head-on. Everyone at the crash scene told me my little girl did not suffer because the other car came through the front windshield and she never regained consciousness following the collision.

The other driver made the decision for me, but I was the person who had to tell the emergency room doctors that they could stop the machines – that they were keeping my daughter from her final destination that night.

The hole that was ripped into our lives cannot be patched. Her laughter cannot be brought back. Kristy always brought laughter and music to our house and the silence is a poor substitute for our daughter. Somebody else’s little distraction changed our life, and the lives of many other people forever.

I am sharing this experience with the hope that anyone who reads it will make sure to observe the last item on the checklist above every time they get in the car. Please, put your cell phones away before you drive, so no one else has to experience what we did.

Every day we are in charge of what we do in the car or at work, and all of the little things we do or not do are the things that can change our lives forever. Make sure that the little things you do each day will protect you and the ones you love.

I am sharing this experience with the hope that anyone who reads it will make sure to observe the last item on the checklist.

2009 Teen Memoriam
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