MONTGOMERY — The message said “lol”. Three letters that took just seconds to type, but would change one teen’s life forever.
“I sent one meaningless text, and I killed a man,” said Patrick Simms, who struck a bicyclist while text messaging in 2005. Simms tells his story in a video put together by AT&T, highlighting the importance of combating distracted driving.
Called “The Last Text,” the short, 10-minute feature is packed with power. Mandi Umscheid will live with the fact that her text, a simple “yeah,” was the last thing her sister Ashley saw before she careened off the road to her death.
“She was looking at my message that I had just sent her,” Mandi said. “… Having a highway patrol officer write in a report that a text message sent at 12:05 is the reason that she is dead is not something that will ever go away. If I could talk to her one last time I would just say I’m sorry.”
The video was shown for a Distracted Driving Month program as part of the Montgomery Police Department’s initiative to stop the potentially fatal task.
“Everyone is human, and everyone makes mistakes,” said Montgomery Deputy Chief Armando Sanders.
But the dangers of distracted driving are life changing, he said.
“Distracted driving is becoming more of an issue for sure, and it’s being addressed more as well,” he said.
To show residents just how dangerous the task of texting can be, police invited people to take a drive on their simulator — and then take that same drive while texting, Facebook updating or playing Words with Friends.
According to Montgomery Police Officer Jon Fritz, drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident while text messaging behind the wheel.