Crash Survivor Encourages Teens to "TXTL8R"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Jamie Nash was texting while driving when she had a horrific accident that changed her life forever, now through her organization TXTL8R she's hoping to stop dangerous distracted driving. (Published Sunday, Aug 26, 2012)

    On July 27, 2010, Jamie Nash caught fire.

    "Certain things, I do remember. I remember being trapped, I remember patting my hair out. I remember screaming, I do remember that," Jamie Nash says.

    Nash was on her way home, driving down a dark, two lane road in Ennis, when her blue PT Cruiser went off the road and was fully engulfed in flames by the time rescue workers arrived to pull her out.

    The 27 year old mother of two, had been doing what she always did; working, taking care of her kids, and, as she drove her car, she was doing something that thousands of drivers do every day:  She was texting. 

    "I was burned, third and fourth degree all over my body," Nash says. "70 percent. My arms, legs back. My Achilles was burned in two -- pretty much everywhere. Fourth degree was burnt to the bone, I still have exposed bone in my elbow."

    Nash says the pain was indescribable. She spent two and a half weeks in a medically induced coma, then six and a half months in full time recovery. She's already gone through 29 surgeries and it's only just begun -- Nash has been told full recovery will take upwards of ten years.

    Nash says started to understand life in a way she never did before. She says she also became abundantly aware of how stupid she had been.  Sure enough,  that's when the calls started coming. 

    "When I got out, people started calling and wanting to talk to me, and I never spoke to people in my life.  And imagine a mummy, I'm bandaged from head to toe and they want to hear from me.  So finally I said, 'okay I'm going to go," Nash says.

    "The first event I went to was Lewisville ninth grade campus, 1000 ninth graders, and when they introduced me the kids stood up and started clapping. To see 1000 ninth graders stand up for you and want to hear what I have to say, that I survived something so horrific.  That's when it clicked for me -- and it just snowballed since then. "

    Now Nash speaks at schools, drivers' education classes, churches and youth groups.

    "It was the most terrifying thing that i can describe, being in that hospital bed and not being able to move," Nash told a recent youth group meeting at the Mesquite Church of Christ. "They have to remove my bandages and they have to scrub me. They scrub me daily and I have no skin."

    When Nash speaks to the teens, her story has an obvious and immediate effect -- her message gets through to them clearly.

    "Get off the phone. No message is worth your life or the life of somebody else," Nash says.

    "If you're the passenger, you can help. 'Hey mom, let me get that text for you.'  Get it out of their hands. Get the multi tasking part out of driving.  The only thing you should be doing is driving."

    Nash plans to keep talking, showing the video of her accident, and handing out wristbands with the name of her organization, TXT L8R.  She hopes, in some way, she's making a difference.

    "This is healing for me," Nash says. "I have to keep talking about it, and if I can save one life than it's worth it."

    Nash's story is not unique.  In 2009, 5400 people died in distracted driving incidents in the United States and tens of thousands more were injured.

    Experts at Parkland Hospital say sending a text while driving is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field at 55 mph while blindfolded. 

    They also say hands free devices still takes away 37-percent of our attention. 

    Arlington does have a law banning cell phone use while driving, but similar legislation at the state level died in committee during the last legislative session