From the time she was a little girl, Heather Hurd loved Disney World. She first visited at the age of five and immediately swore that one day she'd live in Orlando and work at the park.
Twenty-one years later, she was living her dream. She worked in the Magic Kingdom, and even got engaged there. And on January 3, 2008, Heather and her fiancée Patrick were set to have their first meeting with a Disney wedding planner to discuss their dream ceremony.
But on the way to their appointment, tragedy struck. A tractor-trailer traveling at 65 miles per hour hit Heather's car--and eight others--while they were stopped at a red light. Patrick was critically injured in the crash. Heather died at the scene.
The truck driver, who was texting with his company at the time of the crash, never applied his brakes.
The sudden loss of their daughter--at a time when it seemed her entire future lay ahead of her--was almost impossible for Russell and Kim Hurd to bear.
"You hate to think about the future. I have a hard time with the future," Kim said. "I have a hard time making new memories, and it’s hard to make plans for future events because Heather can’t be there."
Russell and Kim hope that by speaking out about the dangers of distracted driving, other families will never have to experience the kind of senseless loss that tore their family apart. In 2009, they successfully lobbied for the passage of "Heather's Law," which prohibits drivers in their home state of Maryland from texting behind the wheel. They hope to see similar legislation passed in Florida.
And today, their Faces of Distracted Driving video is being released as part of the 2011 Drive Safely Work Week Toolkit. This free resource, produced by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS), is designed to help companies address distracted driving and improve the driving safety of their employees.
“Everybody has a Heather in their life--someone they love more than anything who they would do anything to protect. And we all owe it to these loved ones to change our habits behind the wheel,” said Russell Hurd. “My message is simple: turn the cell phone off and focus on safe, distraction-free driving.”
If you have a distracted driving experience you'd like to share, please email email@example.com.