Bob Okerblom was never a cyclist. And he certainly never imagined that he'd one day bike from coast to coast. But that is just what he's doing today--a tribute to the son he lost much too soon.
It was a clear summer day less than two years ago when 19-year-old Eric Okerblom set out on his own bike ride. A natural athlete who completed his first marathon at the age of 16, he had plans to join the cycling team when he returned to the University of California at Berkeley for his sophomore year.
And on a road not far from his home near Santa Maria, California, Eric was killed when a teen driver traveling at 60 miles per hour struck his bike with her truck.
The driver's cell phone records indicated that she was texting just prior to the crash.
The sudden loss of their son was unimaginable to Bob and Eilene Okerblom. And they share their story in the latest installment of our "Faces of Distracted Driving" series.
Since losing their son, Eilene and Bob have channeled their grief into action. The family started the Eric Okerblom Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing distracted driving. They've lobbied for tougher laws and penalties for drivers found to be using cell phones in California. And Bob is spreading the word on the road, cycling cross-country to raise awareness about the dangers of texting and cell phone use behind the wheel.
Their message to drivers everywhere is simple:
“Distraction while driving is a willful decision, and it is wrong. We all have a responsibility, to ourselves and to each other, when we get behind the wheel. Our son is gone, but we will be his voice.”
If you have a distracted driving experience you'd like to share, post a video on YouTube and email a link to firstname.lastname@example.org.