Category Archives: Death

Death by Texting

It’s bad enough when people drive and talk on the phone – they don’t have the use of their phone hand for maneuvering the car (and in many states, talking without a hands-free headset is illegal), and they are totally absorbed in a conversation, meaning they’re not looking alertly for pedestrians, bicyclists, a herd of buffalo or other cars.  What’s even more egregious is the texting craze which has the driver looking down and reading or dialing or writing and not even looking ahead at the road for several seconds, which could mark the difference between life and death.

For Victoria McBryde, 24, those few precious seconds meant her death.  22 year old Phillipa Curtis has been convicted of the death of Ms McBryde – caused by texting while driving.  The victim’s car had broken down and was by the side of the road with all its lights on and emergency lights blinking – a bit hard NOT to notice.  Nonetheless, she was killed instantly when her car was rear-ended by the texting Ms. Curtis, who will spend only two years in prison for this crime.

This all took place in Britain, which has added jail time to a conviction for killing by texting and driving.  Ms. Curtis’ phone records indicated that she had exchanged nearly two dozen messages with at least five friends, mostly concerning her encounter with a celebrity singer she had served at a restaurant where she worked.  That’s what was so important?  For that, someone had to die??  Death due to dangerous driving (e.g., texting) is on the level of drinking while driving, and can earn four to seven years in jail.  Apparently, the perp was a pretty, seemingly sweet young thing, and so her jail time was minimized by the judge – a sentence that was met with anger by the victim’s family as well as the by the prosecutor…and by me.

Ironically, it was also discovered that the victim herself had sent a text message and talked on her cell phone using the speaker function while driving before her car broke down. 

Please don’t think you are invincible, and the laws and recommendations about driving safely apply to everyone else, while you are “special.”  The lives of these two young women are forever changed.  One life was forfeited; the other woman is jailed and living with the guilt of having killed another human being because she just had to gossip to five friends about seeing a rock star.  Sad.

Remembering A Child Lost

I received this poignant email about a heartbreaking topic, but Kelly has found inspiration in her loss, and that’s the message I’d like to pass on to all of you:

Dr. Laura:
I listened to a call you took from a woman who had lost a baby (a twin), and wondered how to handle this as she tried to go forward in life.  I thought I’d share how my family has coped with our loss.

My son was stillborn almost 13 years ago now.  He was my first baby, and the loss was devastating, especially since it was such a struggle to conceive him at all.  Three months after the loss I became pregnant again (huge surprise!).  How could I be happy for this baby when I was still mourning my son?  It was scary and hard, but I was determined to notice what would become good memories, so that I would have them to share with this child as she was growing up and wanting to hear how happy we were as we anticipated her arrival.  But I still struggled each year as the anniversary of my son’s birth/death approached. 

And then I read a story about a woman who had been raped and left for dead.  After years of agonizing fear and dread as the anniversary of her attack approached each year, she decided to do something to change all that.  She used that date each year to celebrate her life, and the fact that she still had it.  By this time, we had already shared with our daughter that she had a brother in heaven who watched over her.  I decided to take that a step further.

Rather than trying to cover up or explain my sadness at that time each year, I decided to make it a time of remembrance and appreciation.  If nothing else, my son’s death taught me just how fleeting this life is, and there is not a moment to take for granted. It took me a long time to get to this place, but now, on that day each year, my husband, my daughter and I take that day off (no matter what) just to spend time with each other doing something fun, and remembering how appreciative we are that we have each other.

We’ve been camping, spent a day at the park, went to the beach…anything that immersed us in each other.  And we take time out to remember our son, and thank him for that awesome lesson.  When it comes to the loss of a child, I really think every person has to find his or her own way.  I just thought I’d share ours, in hopes that it might help someone else.