by Mark Horner
Everything seemed to be lining-up perfectly for three Lake Washington High School students as they prepared to share their new knowledge about the dangers of texting while driving. The three seniors began their research in early January by studying eye-opening statistics about TWD. They had grown to feel emotionally connected to Wendy Lerch, the mother of a 19-year-old woman killed in a texting crash south of Olympia last year. Mrs. Lerch had responded to the students’ e-mails and she had answered their questions.
This week marked the first anniversary of Heather Lerch’s death. And her crumpled car was on display Tuesday, Wednesday and today at Lake Washington High. Seniors Shannon Bebee, Taylor LaFave and Kaylin Wilson had worked hard to make it so. This was the culmination of their project.
But on February 18, another young woman died texting while driving in Heather’s hometown. Police say 22-year-old Ashley R. Jones-Davis crossed the center line and struck an oncoming truck. The driver of the truck was not injured.
Rochester, Washington rests on a little more than 2 square miles of land. Yet the town of less than 2,000 people is connected to two TWD fatalities in just short of a year.
No, things didn’t line-up quite perfectly for the Lake Washington project. But the very recent loss of Ashley’s life heightened the students’ sense of urgency for sharing their new message: Don’t let an LOL become an OMG.