Mark Died for a Text Message
Do you remember what you were doing on the morning of January 29, 2015? On that Thursday morning, Mark Sevilla was headed South on I-71 at 9:30 AM in his Chevrolet Silverado near Verona, Kentucky. Nothing special. For 45 year old Mark, just the norm in his hardworking life. At the same time, Chris was driving his Peterbilt tractor trailer northbound on I-71. But then Chris made a horrible decision. He started texting on his cell phone while driving his semi. Due to his distracted driving, Chris hit an unoccupied Chevy Cavalier and lost control of his semi rig. His Peterbilt semi crossed the highway median and collided head-on with 2 southbound cars. One of those cars was Mark Sevilla’s Silverado. Tragically, Mark died at the scene. Yes, Mark died for a text message.
Mark’s Family Takes the High Road
Mark’s family mourned his tragic passing. But then they chose to honor Mark by taking the high road. Sarah Strack, Mark’s niece, and her mother Kathleen started the 2 EYES • JUST DRIVE movement. 2 EYES • JUST DRIVE is an education & advocacy group whose mission is spreading the word on how dangerous texting while driving can be. As Sarah boldly puts it, you need to think twice before touching your phone while driving. She says the message is rough to some but texting while driving is a self-centered act that endangers those around you. Remember, Mark died for a text message.
Hawks Drive to Stay Alive
Sarah’s high school, Lakota East in Ohio’s Liberty Township, has wholeheartedly embraced the 2 EYES • JUST DRIVE movement. The family’s tragic story and brave stance has challenged students, teachers, & parents. Susanna Davis, Lakota East’s High School Principal, says she hears the phrase 2 EYES • JUST DRIVE regularly amongst the student body. She says the students are definitely thinking twice about their devices and their focus while they are driving. Susanna Davis says that many of them attribute their new focus to Sarah and her family’s heartfelt message. Hundreds of students and teachers have signed a banner that hangs in Lakota East, pledging not to drive distracted.
On January 27, 2017 Erik Zarnitz of WLTW TV broadcasted this great story on the 2 year anniversary of the tragedy. WLTW’s YouTube Channel video of this broadcast is shown below under their Standard YouTube License and YouTube’s Embeddable Player. You need to watch this short story (WLTW YouTube Channel). It brings the message home loud and clear.
The Ugly Truth About Distracted Driving
When you choose to drive distracted by using your cell phone, at that moment you transform your car into a WPD. What is a WPD? WPD stands for WEAPON OF PERSONAL DESTRUCTION. In this story, Chris the truck driver received an 8 year prison sentence. He killed Mark Sevilla, brought pain to Mark’s family, and literally wrecked his own life. No one walks out a winner with distracted driving. The U.S. Department of Transportation says it best: Distracted driving is a dangerous epidemic on America’s roadways. 71% of young people say they have sent a text while driving. In 2014, 3,179 people were killed, and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. Just think about it, 3,179 people gone forever & 431,000 injured because of distracted driving in 2014 alone. I personally know 2 young college women who lost their lives as a result of distracted driving, one a senior in college. The U.S.D.O.T. has found that at any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010. The national statistics are horrifying (check them out). Folks, it just is not worth it. If you really need to text or talk, pull over and park your car. Everyone wins then. Remember, Mark died for a text message.
Sarah and her family are working on establishing 2 EYES • JUST DRIVE as a non-profit organization. When this happens, I will post a link to their website. In the meantime, I have listed below a couple of important links. The first is the U.S.D.O.T.’s website totally devoted to fighting distracted driving (distraction.gov). The second link is to 2 EYES • JUST DRIVE‘s Facebook page. Be sure to follow them on Facebook!