Asheville, NC -- A text on a phone took the life of a 16 year-old girl. That's the message a father wants to share as his part of our "Great Hang Up" campaign. Amos Johnson from Asheville says he is now fighting the "it can't happen to me" mentality. He wants teens to know, it can happen to them because it happened to his daughter.
"Ashley, my daughter, died because she received a text and retrieved it. She took her eye of the road for a second, that's all it took," explains Johnson. The photos that show what is left of his daughter's car are hard to look at, but help tell the story of what can happen when drivers are distracted.
Ashley Johnson was on her way to work in Asheville when she took her eyes off the road, crossed the center lane and hit a pick up truck head on. The police found she received a text message at 3:00p.m. The 911 call came in just two minutes later. "Over time she just got confident. I guess she thought she could handle it, she couldn't," says Johnson.
He explains that he rode with Ashley for a year before she started driving alone. He knew the phone would be a challenge, "It was always vibrating, vibrating and a couple of times she reached to get it and I said, 'No, no way. Do not pick that phone up, wait until you get home'." He even continued to test her when she got her license, "She was bright and she knew, she knew better and she done it anyway."
During the interview, WFMY News 2's Ashley Smith asked Amos, "Why do you think it is difficult for people to make this change? I mean, even you and Ashley had talked about not using that phone while she was in the car. You even admit sometimes you still answer the phone. Why is it such a difficult habit to give up?"
"I don't know what it is going to take to wake people up, but I hope, like I say, I know this story will help somebody," says Johnson.
His message is simple, "Put the cell phones down. When they are in a vehicle, just lay them to the side, cut them off, whatever they have to do not to answer that phone."
Johnson says the hardest thing is visiting his daughter's grave. He makes the trip once a week, not only to pay his respects, but to fuel his inspiration to help make a change. "Due to receiving a text message, retrieving it or whatever, texting talking," Johnson says while kneeling at Ashley's grave, "This is as real as it gets. This is the result right here."
WFMY News 2