Words can’t describe the tragic loss endured by Jacy Good, whose powerfully moving story captivated parents at the “Heard in Rye” program, “Hang Up and Drive,” April 4 at Rye Middle School.
By Georgetta L. Morque
Words can’t describe the tragic loss endured by Jacy Good, whose powerfully moving story captivated parents at the “Heard in Rye” program, “Hang Up and Drive,” April 4 at Rye Middle School. Good described what was supposed to be the happiest day of her life – graduation from Muhlenberg College in 2008. Yet the easy 90-minute drive back home from Allentown to Lancaster, Pennsylvania with her parents turned deadly when an 18-year-old driver on a cell phone caused a horrific accident that killed both of her parents, and left Jacy clinging to life with a 10 percent chance of survival. The presentation, which was co-sponsored by the Rye YMCA, was Good’s third of the day. Earlier, she spoke to students at two Rye High School assemblies.
Good needed the help of her fiancé, Steve Johnson, (via a video presentation) whom she met freshman year, to share parts of the story. Lengthy surgeries and extensive rehab kept her initially in the dark about what happened as she struggled to re-train her brain, beginning at kindergarten and first grade levels, and to eventually rise out of a wheelchair, miraculously gaining cognitive and physical functioning. Yet, she still has lingering pain and limited mobility. She also experiences emotional trauma every time she tells her story.
After graduation, Good had planned to work for Habitat for Humanity in Brooklyn and share an apartment with friends. Instead, she’s been traveling around the country to schools and corporations to speak about the dangers of cell phone use behind the wheel and advocate for legislation to end what she calls “a global epidemic of distracted driving.” She’s journeyed to 23 states, visited the United Nations, and appeared on “Oprah.”
“I never thought this would be my career,” said Good, who knows that if the accident had reverse consequences, her parents would be doing the same thing for her.
The driver who caused the accident was not charged, since under Pennsylvania law there was no crime. Yet, even with laws in other states prohibiting using cell phones while driving more than 5,000 Americans are killed every year by distracted drivers. Cell phone use causes at least 25 percent of motor vehicle accidents.
Good has tirelessly researched accident statistics, cell phone usage, and the nature of the human brain. MRI scans of the brain show that talking on the phone, even hands free, reduces the brain’s activity associated with driving by 37 percent. Other studies show that drivers using phones see only 50 percent of what they are supposed to see on the road.
Good believes she survived for a reason. She hopes that even reaching one person at each talk will help make a change. “You have the power to save lives,” she said, showing a photo of 15 faces, representing 15 people who senselessly lose their lives each day from this issue. “Put yourself in their shoes.” Good is passionate about her mother’s philosophy: “If you don’t try to do something, you are part of the problem.”
Visit www.hangupanddrive.com to learn more and take the pledge to not use a cell phone while driving.