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[Distracted Driving] Sad stuff

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout' started by roxxfan, Sep 18, 2016.

  1. roxxfan

    roxxfan Contributing Member

    Oct 27, 2009
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    My Mother's Killer Was Fined $250

    On March 11, 2015, Giana Mucci's mother, Sheryl Mucci, drove home after 9 p.m. She took residential roads through Pasadena, California, and was struck by a driver who crashed into Sheryl's car. Sheryl sustained multiple injuries from the accident and died after 15 excruciating days in the intensive care unit in Huntington Memorial Hospital. The driver was charged with vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, a misdemeanor crime, but pleaded to reckless driving. On June 6, 2016, she was fined $250.

    In 2014, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 people were injured by distracted drivers. And though campaigns like It Can Wait are raising awareness through heartbreaking videos, like this one where a partially paralyzed woman meets with people who confess they text and drive, many people still can't resist checking social media or sending a quick text. The driver who killed Giana's mother left the accident unscathed, and her driver's license was not revoked. Giana spoke to Cosmopolitan.com about her mother's death and her family's devastation.

    My petite mother, with her bright smile and beautiful chocolate brown eyes, gave the best hugs. When I was a kid, she was the kind of mom who made sure to find out what my friends' favorite snacks were and had them on hand. A few years back, when I got a teeny ladybug tattoo, my mom was pissed. She absolutely hated tattoos. But, from then on, she bought me everything with a ladybug on it.

    I still can't believe my mother is dead. When someone asked me what I was doing for Mother's Day this year, I was silent. How do you tell a stranger that you miss your mother every single day? There are days when I have the unbelievable urge to pick up the phone and call her.

    But I can't. A reckless driver killed my mom on March 11, 2015. To this day, I don't know if she was texting, snapping an Instagram pic, or posting on Facebook, but she was distracted and T-boned my mother's car.

    My mom left my sister's house and was headed straight home. Took a route that she's driven hundreds of times. A car made a left turn, straight into my mother's car. The driver didn't have a single scratch on her body. My mother had to be resuscitated at the scene.

    When I arrived at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, my family was sequestered in a tiny room away from the emergency room. Three doctors came in. I'll never forget their words. They said my mom had suffered multiple catastrophic injuries. She fractured her neck. Since she had been without oxygen for an unknown amount of time, the doctors presumed she was brain dead.

    She blinked her eyes for yes and no ... She even mouthed, 'I love you' two times to us.
    We paced the halls, crying, texted other relatives, and didn't speak a word to one another. I couldn't comfort my 17-year-old niece who was sobbing. The fear in my sister's eyes scared me. I didn't dare look at her. If I did, then it meant this was real. When I finally saw my mom, her once slender face was swollen beyond recognition. Medical tubes stuck out of her mouth and lungs. My youthful mom looked like my 76-year-old grandma before she died. I resisted touching her, afraid I'd hurt her more.

    The 15 days we spent in the hospital were the most harrowing, awful, excruciating days of my life. She underwent tests to see if she was brain-dead. She wasn't. They thought she would never wake up from her coma. She did. The doctors were constantly telling us she wouldn't make it, but I didn't believe them. I had proof she was OK. She blinked her eyes for yes and no. She wiggled her toes on command. She even mouthed, "I love you" two times to us. But the worst was the one single word she asked that none of us could answer: "How?" She wanted to know what happened to her. I couldn't answer her. I had to call my sister over.

    Since she wasn't brain-dead, the doctors had to figure out how to stabilize her fractured neck. They first put her in a halo, a contraption to hold her neck in place. They drilled holes in her head to put it in. Actual holes. Directly into her skull. I wanted to puke. After the halo was put on, the doctors said it wasn't enough. She underwent four surgeries in two days to stabilize her neck.

    My family stayed with her every day, taking turns spending the night. On my nights, I read from The Daily Word, a prayer book she liked. Played Frank Sinatra's "High Hopes," which she used to sing to us as kids. I tried to get her to move her hands, but she couldn't. Whenever doctors were running tests, I murmured, "I love you, mom." I echoed it again when nurses changed her sheets. Said it like a prayer when staff cleaned the tubes in her mouth. "I love you, mom" when nurses gagged her to check her reflexes. "I love you, mom," as they shone a flashlight in her eyes to check her pupils. It was my mantra. The words that meant I was still anchored to my mother.

    Four months before the accident, I bought a condo in West Hollywood. It was my first big purchase as an adult. My mom was so thrilled for me. She stayed with me for a couple nights to help me while I moved in. We binge-watched Property Brothers. Ordered chicken taquitos from a Mexican restaurant up the street. She bought me a beautiful yellow bench for my patio, a few ladybug decorations for the garden, of course, and a bamboo plant the weekend before the accident.

    On the 14th day of her hospital stay, my mom was back in a coma and could no longer move her feet. The doctors talked to us about pulling the plug. I was devastated, and so pissed at the world. I felt like everyone had given up on her, but they were just seeing what I wasn't ready to see. The only thing we could all agree on that day was signing a Do Not Resuscitate order. If her vitals crashed, we were going to let her go. The one thing I knew for sure is that my mom wouldn't want to live like that.

    That night at 4 a.m., my dad texted. For the first time, she crashed. He said we should all get back to the hospital. Within an hour of all of us arriving, she crashed again. This time the doctors took out the breathing tube. We surrounded her bed. Collectively sobbed while telling her we loved her. I kissed her on her forehead one last time. One last "I love you, mom." Seeing her take her final breath was excruciating. I wanted to die with her. A hospital priest blessed her after she passed. We all sat at the hospital for a while. Completely silent. We didn't want to leave her. I don't remember much else, but I do remember that when I finally got home - to the condo that my mom helped decorate - I lay face down on the patio, directly on the concrete, and cried uncontrollably. I couldn't get up. I kept thinking to myself, She was just here.

    Seeing her take her final breath was excruciating. I wanted to die with her.
    The driver who killed my mother, at first, tried to blame the accident on my mother. She said she was driving without her lights on. Security camera footage contradicted that claim. Then she said she just didn't see my mother. Finally, she told the police, "I don't know what I was doing." When we found out that the city of Pasadena was pressing charges against her, we were relieved. The driver was charged with vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. It's only a misdemeanor, but it felt like something. But then, the prosecutor on our case left, and we got a new prosecutor who gave her a plea bargain without consulting us. We didn't know the charges were downgraded to reckless driving until we got to court on June 6, 2016. Her fine was $250, plus some court charges. I've gotten parking tickets bigger than that! The driver didn't lose her license. Didn't have to do community service. The day of the sentencing, I read a statement I wrote, which took me all night to write. The woman who killed my mom didn't even look at me. Not once.

    Before my mother's death, I admit that I checked my phone at red lights. I live in Los Angeles where people shave in their cars, eat entire meals, and text all the time - despite traffic signs along the freeways that say, "Texting: It Can Wait." But now, whenever I'm stuck in traffic, which is all the time, I see everyone looking at their phones, and it drives me crazy. I want to scream at them to put down their ****ing phones. What they don't realize - and what I never realized until now - is that any one of us could kill someone. For what? Checking Facebook? The ultimate irony is that my mom never used her phone while driving. If we called or texted her, she would pull over immediately before checking her phone.

    I feel totally untethered to the world without my mother.

    My mom loved dragonflies. She always sent me pictures of them whenever she spotted one. Me, I never saw dragonflies. During one visit to her grave, I lost it. The tears were ugly and messy, but I couldn't stop crying. When I finally looked up, 10 dragonflies circled me, beating their long wings in rhythm. "I love you, mom," I whispered to them.

    There are days when my anger toward this distracted driver consumes me. Days when saying "I love you, mom" hurts. Some days, I'm OK. Sometimes, seeing a ladybug or dragonfly makes me smile. But most days, I just want to talk to my mom. That distracted driver didn't kill just one person that day in March. She killed me too.

    I admit that I do text and drive. Bad habit. I also use my phone for apps and music. I always have that "it will never happen to me" mindset because I think I am pretty good at it. Yet these stories keep happening.

    I saw this and thought it was worth sharing.
  2. Amiga

    Amiga 80s
    Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2008
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    AI assisted driving will help a lot. Hope that will be mainstream in a decade
  3. Jontro

    Jontro Member

    Feb 3, 2010
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    I text during heavy traffic jams where you just sit still for minutes at a time or on a stop light.

    Other than that, I only use google map. That's also kind of dangerous tho.
  4. bobrek

    bobrek Politics belong in the D & D

    Sep 16, 1999
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    So, are you going to quit now?
  5. Duncan McDonuts

    Duncan McDonuts Contributing Member

    Nov 4, 2008
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    I only do it when I'm in bumper-to-bumper traffic or stopped at a light, and that's to glance down for a couple of seconds, not send a text. My car has a collision warning system that's capable of stopping the car under 25 mph. I know it's dumb to rely on that, but it serves as an extra warning.

    It's stupid to drive distracted over 40 mph. Will cops stop a distracted driver if I were to call 911 on them? I doubt it. Even drunk driving is given a slap on the wrist in the US. Over in the UK, I read driving and texting twice gets your license suspended, once if you're a new driver. I wish our driving laws were as strict as Europe's is, but America and freedom yada yada yada...

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