Family raises awareness on distracted driving after son's horrific crash


A Mid-Michigan family is spreading the message behind a new video for National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

“It was a nightmare. The sheriff's deputy showed up at the door and told me my son had been in a crash,” Maureen Howell said.

Just one second of your attention is all it takes to change a life forever.

In 2005, Sam Howell was in a crash that changed his life and lives of those around him.

“I lost a son and I had to grieve for him and come to love another son. Sam’s very much alike as he was on the inside. But he struggles and I will always be broken-hearted about it. That part will never heal,” Maureen, told TV5 in an I-Team Report on distracted driving.

Sam was heading home when he lost control of his car on a stretch of M-52 in St. Charles. He said he heard his cell phone go off. As he reached for it, he veered off the road.

The force of the impact forced the vehicle’s roof to collapse on Sam’s head, leaving him with a traumatic brain injury.

A model student, a drummer in the band, a soccer player and a science whiz, Sam was working closely with researchers from Harvard and hoping to become a doctor before his accident.

His choice to reach for his cell phone changed all that.

“Whatever you’re doing, it’s not worth it,” Sam said.

Since then, he's made great strides on his road to recovery by constantly beating the odds.

"He had seven chest tubes in all in his lungs, more than I've ever seen someone require," Maureen said.

Sam is walking and talking again.

"Sam is so much further ahead then they expected and he's still improving," Maureen said.

Now, Sam and his mother are hoping to prevent anyone else from going through what they've been through.

Michigan State Police said during the month of April they are going to be increasing their enforcement of distracted driving violations.

"It's a statewide initiative and it's April 9 through the 22. We're going to join up with law enforcement partners throughout the state of Michigan to help prevent crashes," MSP Lt. Dave Kaiser said.

Meanwhile, Sam is back in college. He is a senior at Oakland University and hopes to continue sharing his story with his fellow students.

"Why take the chance. Just put it away and pull over if you have to," Sam said.

Copyright 2018 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Digital Content Producer

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