Like many 19-year-olds, Heather Lerch of Rochester, WA, had plans. She was a first-year student at Centralia College, hoping to pursue a career in forensics and criminal justice. She had just celebrated a birthday; she had bought a car; she had an address book full of friends in her cell phone.
On February 23, 2010, the text messages that she often exchanged with those friends cost her crucial seconds of attention to the road. While driving home from work as she had done hundreds of times, Heather approached a bend in the road. But she was texting, saw the bend too late, and crashed through the guardrail. Heather was killed instantly.
“I had seen her earlier, before she left for work,” says Heather’s father, Dan Lerch. “I told her to have a great day. That I loved her. And I never saw her again.”
To help others learn about the dangers of distracted driving, the Washington State Department of Licensing, together with Heather’s parents, Dan and Wendy, produced a video and submitted it to our “Faces of Distracted Driving” series.
Recording this video was obviously very painful for Dan and Wendy, and I can’t thank them enough. I hope that everyone who hears their story will remember to keep their eyes on the road, their hands on the wheel, and their focus on driving.
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.