At 13 years old, Frances "Margay" Schee lived every moment to the fullest. She was a gifted honors student, cheerleader, band member, and animal shelter volunteer. And as she skateboarded and surfed near her Florida home, Margay dreamed of the day she'd become an airline pilot, criss-crossing the globe.
That day would never come.
Since the launch of our "Faces of Distracted Driving" series on Tuesday, thousands of people have shared Margay's story with someone they love. I hope you'll do the same.
On September 23, 2008, a semi-truck slammed into the back of Margay's school bus while it was stopped on U.S. 301 in Citra, Florida. The impact of the crash pushed the bus and truck more than 200 feet before both vehicles burst into flames.
Four passing motorists immediately stopped to help. They began pulling the driver and students from the wreckage. But Margay was trapped under a seat, unable to move. And as smoke and heat overwhelmed the volunteer rescuers, they were forced to abandon their efforts. She burned to death in the fire.
The truck driver admitted he was fatigued and talking on his phone at the time of the accident. He said he never even saw the school bus in front of him.
For the Schee family, the loss was unthinkable. "A big part of me died with Margay," her mother Elissa said. "It's just taking your world full of color and then... everything is gray. I can't even say it's black and white. It's just gray. It's ugly."
Elissa has devoted herself to raising awareness about the dangers of cell phone use behind the wheel. She believes sharing her story will help keep other families from suffering similar losses.
"I ask that people, if they feel the urge to pick up their phone while they're driving their vehicle, they'll think about Margay laying on the bottom of a school bus."
If you have a distracted driving experience you'd like to share, post a video on YouTube and email a link to email@example.com.