Losing a Child to Distracted Driving and Caring for a Husband with ALS | Eileen Miller | TEDxGCSOM | Summary and Q&A

September 25, 2023
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Losing a Child to Distracted Driving and Caring for a Husband with ALS | Eileen Miller | TEDxGCSOM

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This video is a heart-wrenching testimony from a mother who lost her son due to distracted driving. She shares the tragic events surrounding the accident and the devastating impact it had on her family. She emphasizes the importance of raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and urges people to prioritize safety on the road.

Questions & Answers

Q: What happened to the speaker's son on July 5th, 2010?

On July 5th, 2010, the speaker's son was involved in a fatal car crash caused by distracted driving. He had attended a party the night before and mistakenly stayed overnight due to the party's location being further than he thought. The next morning, he called his workplace to inform them that he would be late. Unfortunately, he never made it to work as he was killed in the crash.

Q: What were the circumstances of the crash?

The crash occurred on Route 33 in Monroe County. A distracted tractor-trailer driver, who had been seen exhibiting reckless driving behavior prior to the accident, crossed lanes and collided head-on with the speaker's son's car. The impact pushed his car onto an embankment, and a van with 12 passengers subsequently crashed into his vehicle as well.

Q: How did the speaker's son's body end up in the position shown in the photo?

The speaker discovered through online photos that her son's body was dragged along the highway, ultimately coming to rest on a road sign. The severity of the crash caused significant damage to his car and resulted in his body being disentangled in the final position shown in the photo.

Q: What was the cause of the crash?

The crash was attributed to distracted driving, specifically the use of a cell phone. The speaker mentions that her son's cell phone played a significant role in the tragedy. She highlights the fact that distracted driving is entirely preventable and points out that at least 10 people lose their lives each day due to this dangerous behavior.

Q: How did the speaker feel when informed about her son's death?

The speaker describes her initial reaction as shock and disbelief when two state troopers arrived at her home and informed her about the crash. She vividly explains the rush of thoughts and fears that flooded her mind as she realized the severity of the situation.

Q: What obstacles did the speaker encounter when trying to see her son's body?

Initially, the speaker was not allowed to see her son's body. Due to the crash being a criminal case, she was told that she could not visit him. However, she insisted and ultimately went to see him later in the day. She recounts the heartbreaking experience of struggling to recognize her son and having to verify his identity through his clothes.

Q: What did the speaker promise her son when she saw his body?

The speaker whispered in her son's ear that she would find out how he got killed and would fight for change. From that day forward, she has dedicated herself to advocating against distracted driving and seeking justice for her son's death.

Q: What statistics does the speaker share regarding distracted driving?

The speaker provides various statistics related to distracted driving. She states that distracted driving leads to over 3,000 fatalities annually in the United States alone. Furthermore, distracted drivers are nearly six times more likely to cause a car crash compared to drunk drivers. The majority of distracted drivers fall between the ages of 15 to 20.

Q: What does the speaker say about the use of cell phones while driving?

The speaker emphasizes that using cell phones while driving is a significant issue contributing to distracted driving. She mentions that even utilizing hands-free options like Bluetooth can still result in cognitive distraction, as the brain's attention is divided between driving and conversation. She strongly advises turning off cell phones entirely while behind the wheel.

Q: How has the speaker's family been affected by the tragedy?

The speaker reveals that her husband was diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) or Lou Gehrig's disease in the aftermath of her son's death. The disease has caused her husband's health to decline, leaving him wheelchair-bound and requiring constant care. The family faces numerous challenges associated with caregiving and coping with the devastating effects of the disease.


The speaker's testimony serves as a sobering reminder of the consequences of distracted driving. She urges individuals to prioritize safety by refraining from using cell phones while driving. The devastating impact on her family underscores the need for increased awareness and education on the dangers of distracted driving.

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