Scholarship Finalist Alyssa N

Distracted driving causes thousands of accidents each year. At the Law Office of Neil Burns we see firsthand the personal injuries that these motor vehicle collisions cause. Not only are the victims of the accidents but the family and members of the community are affected as well. Car accident lawyers nationwide are trying to raise awareness of these types of accidents. We hope by offering this scholarship we will raise awareness to the dangers of distracted driving.

We asked our applicants the following:

A. “Distracted Driving and Me.” A personal story about either yourself or a close family member that was affected by distracted driving.

B. “Distracted Driver Awareness Campaign.” A personal story about an awareness campaign you have personally organized or administrated.

C. “Why You Shouldn’t Text and Drive.” An article appealing to young drivers that conveys the message that distracted driving is dangerous.

The essay below is from one of our five finalists.

Distracted Driving and Me

Distracted drivers are the cost of many lives lost throughout the world. I can recount two specific times when I was personally affected by the actions of distracted drivers. The first one being the loss of my siblings’ father, and the second one being the near death experience endured by my best friend.

Growing up, my brother and sister have always been my two biggest inspirations. Not only because of their intelligence, perseverance, athletic talent, and kind hearts, but because I could not have inspired someone the way they inspire me if I had lost my dad, like they did. Kenneth (Kenny) Paul Clary was the victim of a distracted driver, who took his life on February 3rd, 2006. My brother Kyle, and my sister Brittnee, were only ages eleven and fourteen respectively, when they received news that their father had passed away. I remember that night more vividly than most. My sister, mother and I were spending time with my Great Aunt Mai, when my mom received a phone call.  The caller explained to her what had happened and that she needed to come over as soon as possible.  I watched as my older sister pressed her ear to the opposite side of the phone, as my mom was on the phone call.  I was confused when she fell to her knees screaming out, “No!” My mom picked her up and held my sister, as she instructed me pack my things and go to the car. I did as she said, although I still had no idea what was going on. We arrived at my Grandma’s house that evening, and everyone was crying. I noticed that Kenny was not there, but I did not think anything of it. I saw my dad walk into the house holding my brother whose face was puffy and soaked in tears. I still had no idea what was going on. Curiously, I tapped on my dad’s arm and asked him to tell me what was happening. He asked me to just hug my brother and sister, and to tell them that I loved them, and that he would tell me later. I did as he said, and waited patiently to find out the news. That night my mother, father, sister, brother, and myself slept on the floor in the living room all together. The next morning, my dad pulled me aside and explained to me that Kenny had been riding his bicycle home from work, as he did most days, when a woman in a Mitsubishi suddenly swerved off the road, hitting him, and crushing him into a fence on the side of the road. It was later speculated that the young woman may have lost control and swerved across three lanes, because she was reaching for her cell phone that she had dropped.

For the past nine years, I have watched my siblings grow into two amazingly talented, and all around incredible adults. However, it was not without its fair share of hardships. One day, when I was in sixth grade, my sister picked me up from school and as we were driving I noticed that she seemed like something was on her mind. I did not ask her, because I did not want to upset her even more. Once we were about halfway home, she pulled over to answer a phone call. She had the call on speakerphone I was not paying attention to what either her or the other person was saying until I heard the girl on the other end say, “…but it’s not my fault that my dad didn’t die!” This caught my attention immediately and I looked up just before Brittnee’s eyes pooled with water, and she began screaming at this girl over the phone. I had never heard someone be so cruel to another person before, and I had no idea how to help my sister. I vaguely remember putting my hand on her shoulder, but she remained silent for the rest of the car ride home. I remember thinking to myself, “She’s the strongest person I know if she doesn’t let that girl tear her down.” In a more recent time, Kyle’s best friend, Kaesen lost his mother, Christy Wilson in the Seal Beach Massacre of 2011. I was awestruck as I watched my brother console his best friend and so inspired by how he stayed strong for his friend despite his own grief.

Distracted driving affects lives differently. On May 7th, 2011, my best friend, Kadin was walking to meet me at a local carnival when he stepped out into the street and his life changed forever. Kadin was struck by a driver who was looking at the prescription number on a bottle of pills while on the phone with her pharmacist. He stepped out into the crosswalk when she accidentally ran a red light and struck him at nearly sixty miles per hour. Kadin never met met me at the carnival that night. Instead, his older brother, Kyle found me there to tell me what had happened. “Alyssa, Kadin was in a really bad accident. He was hit by a car and the doctors don’t think he’s going to make it.” I remember hearing this and I collapsed as I felt all the strength leave my body. I simply could not bear the thought of having to say goodbye to my best friend forever. Kadin suffered from a severely damage aorta, which was stent placed, bruises on his brain that caused cerebral edema, resulting in increased intracranial pressure, many broken bones to include his tibia, femur, pelvis, and fibula, and countless lacerations. Kadin had multiple surgeries and was kept under anesthesia for weeks in order for his brain to heal and prevent internal bleeding. I was not allowed to see Kadin in the hospital since I am not related to him, but when he was finally checked out after five long months, I was the first to welcome him home. It has been nearly four years since Kadin first came home and I am so blessed to have had the chance to make lifelong memories with him. I still talk to Kadin almost every day and every conversation ends with an “I love you so much!” Watching him recover and get stronger each and every day is a true miracle.

I never thought that there would be a day when I had to consider saying goodbye to Kadin, and I am so grateful for the paramedics, doctors, and prayers that kept him strong. I also cannot imagine living a life without my dad, let alone a life as successful as those of my siblings’. Brittnee graduated from California, Los Angeles (UCLA), her dream school in 2013 with a double major in Psychology and Education. She now works as a teacher for underprivileged children in Los Gatos, California. Kyle graduated high school in 2013 with the highest honors award, and received a full academic scholarship to North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, where he majors in engineering. I am currently in my first semester at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), where I major in Athletic Training. By next semester, I hope to double major in both Athletic Training and Musical Theatre. I am so passionate about both of these careers and I have not yet decided which one I want to pursue.

My brother and my sister have gone on to do extraordinary things despite the fact that they lost a huge part of their lives at such young ages; and Kadin amazes me with the accomplishments that he makes every day, despite the major obstacles that he has overcome since he was just twelve years old. Brittnee, Kyle, and Kadin have always been, and will always be my greatest inspirations.