The winner of our 2018 Stop Texting and Driving Video Scholarship contest is Blake O’Donnell of Mechanicsville, Va. O’Donnell entered the competition just weeks after his mother, Suzanne, a 48-year-old preschool teacher and breast cancer survivor, lost her life in a distracted driving accident.
A teenager was charged with reckless driving in the wake of the incident; the outcome of the case is still pending.
Blake’s video describes the circumstances surrounding his mother’s accident, which occurred when she was struck by a car while walking with a friend. Suzanne spent nine days in the critical care unit of a local hospital attempting to recover from a traumatic brain injury but passed away on March 7, 2018.
She Won’t See Me Graduate
“She won’t see me graduate from high school or college, she won’t be at my wedding, she won’t be a grandmother to any children my sister and I may have in the future,” says Blake in his video, which he narrates over a selection of family photos.
The video closes with Blake standing amidst flower arrangements at the spot where his mother was struck, saying, “This is where people come to grieve and honor her. So let me ask you one question: Is looking at your phone while driving worth another person’s life?”
Blake a 2018 graduate from Atlee High School in Mechanicsville this month, says it was a challenge talking about the passing of his mother at the hands of a distracted driver. But he hopes his video will prevent other families from enduring a similar experience.
“I want people to know that distracted driving can have catastrophic consequences that can change people’s lives,” he concludes.
A GoFundMe page has been established in memory of Suzanne O’Donnell where donations can be made to the O’Donnell family. Suzanne is survived by her husband, Edward, and her two children, Blake and Brooke.
Raybin & Weissman’s 2019 Stop Texting and Driving Scholarship Contest
Anyone interested in entering our firm’s 2019 Stop Texting and Driving Scholarship competition—which offers a $1,000 prize to each of three winners (local, regional and national)—can review the complete rules and requirements on our scholarship page. The contest is open to high school juniors/seniors & college students, who are asked to submit 30-60 second video PSAs that highlight the dangers of texting and driving.
Our hope is that the scholarship competition—along with videos like the ones produced by 2018 Davidson County winner Jacob Fawcett and 2018 state of Tennessee winner Coal Dye—will help reduce the number of accidents caused by distracted driving.
The need to raise awareness has never been more urgent, especially insofar as pedestrian safety is concerned. In 2017, both Nashville and Richmond, Va. (of which Mechanicsville is a suburb) experienced more pedestrian fatalities than any year on record, with 23 and 11, respectively.