In January 2013, Utah resident Keri Houston was a perfectly healthy 18-year-old. But, in a story we see too often, a distracted driver changed that.
Keri had just exited her parked car when a driver sending a text message crashed into her. Her leg was almost severed in two places, and doctors say it’s a miracle she was able to keep it.
“I went to get out, and he sideswiped me and almost severed my leg in two places and broke it in six places,” Keri told Fox 13.
Keri spent the next three months in the hospital as doctors tried to save her leg.
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She and her family were eventually told by police that the man who hit her was texting at the time. The last message he sent before the accident said “Ha ha,” a clear indication that there was no urgent communication going on.
The driver, who was unlicensed and uninsured, was sentenced to one year in prison. Keri, on the other hand, will have to live with the damage done by the accident for the rest of her life.
“It just breaks my heart to see her still this injured,” her mother said in an interview with Fox 13.
In the year since the accident, Utah passed legislation making it illegal to use a phone in almost any way while driving. Phone calls are still allowed, but they must be done with a hands-free device.
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Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Todd Royce says he hopes the law will force people to take distracted driving seriously.
“We’re hoping to see people change their habits now, and the reason why is it costs people lives and injuries and money,” Royce said. “We’re seeing people who haven’t quite changed their habits, and we’re taking strict enforcement on that.”