By Amy Chaffins/Alexandria Echo Press
It was a typical September morning five years ago.
Lucille Vogt, 77, of Leaf Valley was on her way to Parkers Prairie to make an Avon delivery.
"When I got the call, I was at work and I was just told she had been in an accident and taken to Douglas County Hospital," said Lucille's daughter, Lois Roers of Alexandria.
"We were called back into the ER and told they couldn't do anything for her there so they were transporting her to St. Cloud Hospital. We were told there were serious injuries - a lot of internal injuries," Roers said.
Lucille was coherent at the hospital. She was aware of her injuries, where she was and what was going on.
"My sisters and I went to the St. Cloud trauma center and by the time we got there, she was ... on her way out, so to speak ..." Roers paused.
"I had her living will and do-not-resuscitate papers and I gave them to the doctors and they had to stop working on her ... and she was gone.
"They let us stay in the room with her after she passed until the coroner came to pick her up. ...
"Obviously, we knew it was a head-on crash right away, but it wasn't until the next day we found out it was related to distracted driving," Roers explained.
On September 15, 2010, Lucille was driving her 2003 Ford Taurus north on Highway 29 at around 8:20 a.m. near Parkers Prairie when she was struck by a 1998 Chevy Cavalier that crossed the center line, according to the State Patrol.
The 18-year-old driver of the Cavalier, Kayla Carry of Browerville, was also seriously injured.
Carry had sent or received 15 text messages that morning and reportedly sent an outgoing text message at 8:20 a.m.; the first 911 call about the crash was received at 8:24 a.m., according to the State Patrol.
Carry reportedly told investigators she didn't remember the crash.
In January 2011, Carry was charged with vehicular homicide and operating a motor vehicle in a grossly negligent manner.
In August 2011, as part of a plea agreement, Carry pleaded guilty to felony criminal vehicular homicide.
In October 2011, Carry was sentenced to serve at least two months in jail and serve the remainder on electronic home monitoring. She was also fined $1,000 and placed on 10 years probation.
"I didn't go to the sentencing and I never kept up on her situation," Roers said last week.
Was she able to forgive Carry?
"Oh, we all make mistakes, absolutely," Roers told the Echo Press. "I just hope that she took something out of it, as well. Her mind wasn't on driving."
"This doesn't just 'happen to everybody else;' it does happen to people you know.
"People need to stop and think before they pick up the phone or whatever it may be. There are a lot of distractions."
What does Roers think when she sees distracted drivers?
"I'd like to roll down my car window and say, 'What are you doing?' It is scary when you pull up to a stoplight and you just look around and see so many people on their phones," she said.
"My mom was a hard-working woman. She was widowed in the early 1980s and still lived on the home farm," Roers said.
Lucille has seven children, 17 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.
"She loved playing board games, cards, things like Scrabble with the grandkids. Family get-togethers and holidays were very important to her, you know, with the big sit-down dinners. She was an old-fashioned farm wife with a strong family background," Roers said.
Lucille was the head of the family.
"There are a lot of things none of us do anymore - or do together - because she's not there. Some of her grandchildren have gotten married since and some new great-grandchildren have been born since ... she's missed every day."
THE IMPACT NOW
Lucille's story is now part of an impact panel display created by the Douglas County Safe Communities Coalition.
"A couple years ago, a few families wanted to share their stories so we added a couple more panels with six additional stories so we continue to use it," said Crystal Hoepner, coalition director and health educator for Horizon Public Health.
The panels are often displayed at community events like the county fair and teen driving events in the spring.
"Even though people have seen the impact panel in the community, it still continues to be something people stop and look at.
"Hopefully, sharing crash victims' stories helps people realize it does happen here and hopefully we can continue to prevent that from happening," Hoepner said.
STATISTICS FROM MINNESOTA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY
• At 55 miles per hour, texting and driving is like traveling the length of a football field without looking up.
• The result of distracted driving can be devastating as it contributes to one in four crashes in Minnesota.
• Minnesota numbers show that distraction was a factor in 16,900 crashes in 2014, resulting in 61 deaths and 198 serious injuries.
• More than 86,000 crashes were distracted driving-related from 2010 – 2014. That equals 25 percent of all crashes.
• Minnesota law enforcement officers cited 909 drivers statewide for texting and driving from April 13 – 18, 2015 (6 days). This compares to 550 drivers cited over a 10 day enforcement period in April 2014.
Growing Concern: Texting-While-Driving Citations
• 2010 – 847 citations issued
• 2011 – 1,270
• 2012 – 1,718
• 2013 – 2,189
• 2014 – 3,200