Woodstock Teen Survives Texting Crash

9:19 PM, Mar 9, 2010   |    comments
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WOODSTOCK, Ga. -- Bronte Wright is bent over her notebook, the late afternoon sun streaming through her family's dining room. She is studying for her economics midterm.

"The test is Wednesday," she said.

At first glance, Bronte could be any other fresh faced senior at Sequoyah High School in Cherokee County, but a closer look reveals a tear drop shaped scar at the hollow of her throat - a constant reminder. She touches it and smiles.

"I had a trach tube," she said.

A trach tube was just one of many things used to save this 17 year old's life after she totaled her car because she was texting and driving.

Her father Graham remembers the day of the crash as "pretty, summer, sunny. It was about 5 o'clock."

Three days after her 17th birthday on June 29 of last year, Bronte headed to her boyfriend's house for burgers, a few minute's drive from her parents' house. A half hour later, her boyfriend called to say she wasn't there. Bronte's mother Marlene began to dial her daughter's number.

"I called her four times, and she didn't answer the phone, and I thought 'Oh where are you? Who could you be with?' And on the fourth try an EMT answered the phone and said 'Mom?'"

Marlene Wright said she knew immediately it was bad. To the stranger on the phone she asked, "Oh my God, is she alive?"

She was, but barely. Bronte had crashed her car into a tree on Tripp Road. She has no memory of the accident, but witnesses and a police report helped her parents connect the dots.

Graham Wright said, "The police say there were two guys on motorbikes behind her who said she appeared to reach for something and lose control of the car."

Marlene Wright matched up the times from the police report and Bronte's text records.

"At 5:28 p.m. a text was coming and 5:29 p.m. was when 911 was called, so I knew," Marlene said. "She was at least looking at her phone."

Bronte admits she used to drive and text all the time, averaging 13,000 texts a month.

"I would drive with my phone in between my legs, and I'd pull it out, I'd have it on the steering wheel kind of, so I could look at the road and look at the text," she said.

Bronte suffered a broken pelvis and tailbone and a traumatic brain injury in the crash. She was in a coma for a month.

There are photos of her from her time in the hospital, photos that she doesn't remember.

"It's weird seeing myself lay there, not moving," she said.

 

Bronte's father said, "She missed the drooling, she missed the wheelchair with the head restraint, she missed the feeding tubes and all that kind of stuff." That kind of stuff devastated her parents as they waited for their daughter to come back to them.

Almost five weeks in, Bronte came out of the coma and has made a remarkable recovery. She says she feels like herself, but she admits to short term memory loss and a shortened temper.

Behind the wheels these days, she keeps the cellphone off, saying she disabled the blue tooth on her new car because she found it too distracting.

"It's not worth it. The conversation can wait," she said.

For this good student, it was maybe the hardest lesson of her young life, one that motivated her and her parents to sign the Great Hang Up pledge.

"It took one second to look at that phone and one second to lose control," Marlene Wright said of her daughter's accident.

 

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