On January 5th, 2011, on the way home from school Sarah Edwards lost her life to texting and driving. Sarah was 18 years old.
“Sarah called me in the parking lot of the school when she got in her car and said ‘mom I’m getting ready to leave school,” said Tracy O’Carroll, Sarah’s mom. “‘I’ll see you when I get home’ and I said ‘Sarah be careful, bye, I love you’ she said ‘I love you too.'”
That was the last time O’Carroll heard her daughters voice.
“I remember the EMT comes out of the back of the truck and said ‘hey how are you doing’ and I said ‘I think that’s my daughter who’s been in an accident and he looked at me and said ‘hold on one minute and let me get the Sargent’ and I knew,” said O’Carroll. “I knew before they even told me. I knew.”
Two months later, O’Carroll began traveling up and down the east coast telling Sarah’s story. She speaks mostly to high school students around prom time.
“I’m upfront and honest. I tell them the gory details because it has to sink in. I tell them what I’ve seen at the morgue. Having to pick out caskets instead of prom dresses,” said O’Carroll.
She wants the students to know that it only takes one second and can happen to anybody.
“At 3:42 she looked down at that text and at 3:42 she was underneath that locked truck.”
O’Carroll has been an advocate for hands-free driving since 2011, and believes the ‘Hands-Free N.C.’ Bill is a start, but she wants the legislation to go even further.
“My next step is to go to Washington,” said O’Carroll. “And I want a bill passed so that there is no ‘hands-free’ and there is no cell phone. If you’re caught, make it a great big fine and points against your license.”
O’Carroll will continue to travel with Sarah in her heart but wants everyone to heed the warning about distracted driving.
“Put your cellphone away. It’s not important. if its an emergency pull over. Please pull over. Please pull over.”