Distracted Driver Shares Tragic Story

Colette Wright, Design Editor

Speaker Cami Gordon visited Leadership to discuss the dangers of distracted driving. Gordon spoke to the class on March 10.

“I came to speak to the leadership class because, as student leaders of Campo, they can help spread the message to the entire school,” said Gordon.

Gordon is known by Melanie Bell, parent of spirit commissioner Griffin Bell. Melanie Bell asked leadership teacher Dino Petrocco if Gordon could speak to the class.

Gordon experienced a life changing event on July 20, 2011 when she dropped her phone in her car. While Gordon was driving, she reached for the phone. Gordon glanced down for a few seconds and when she looked up, there was a man crossing right in front of her. Gordon tried to slam on the breaks, but she lost control of her car.

According to Gordon, she had two thoughts running through her mind at the time: “I hope he’s okay”, and “my life will change forever.”

The man she hit was William, 83 years old.

As Gordon took a sobriety test, William was rushed to the UCLA hospital. He had fractured bones and internal bleeding. Ultimately, the accident was fatal.

Though Gordon was not required to serve a jail sentence, she must provide over 300 hours of community service as a result of her conviction.

At first, she was ashamed to tell her story, but now she feels “it’s part of the healing process to tell it.”

“My life is changed forever. I’m humbled by what happened to me and I’m more careful in the car. I’m also more compassionate to the suffering of others,” said Gordon.

Gordon has taken her experience and tried to learn from it. “I learned two valuable lessons from my accident. First, don’t try to do two things at once while driving. Second, if you make a tragic mistake, you can still be forgiven,” said Gordon.

 Many in the  leadership class felt that the speech was compelling and informative. “I thought the speech was a great presentation, exciting, had good pace, had a human element, and was honest. Cami could’ve downplayed several things in her story, like her legal representation, but chose not to,” said Petrocco.

Students especially felt it reminded them about the dangers of driving while distracted. “She was an impactive speaker because she proved to us how important it is not to text and drive,” said junior Erica Wolfram.

“I thought her speech was good, effective, and compelling. It reminded me how important it is to pay attention to the road,” said junior Sarah Sweeney.

After the presentation, Gordon handed out information on distracted driving. “At the end, she gave us these slips that we could sign to make pledges not to text and drive. It could affect our lives and the lives of other people,” said Wolfram.

According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, those who text while driving are 23 more times more likely to be in a crash. According to Dr. David Strayer of University of Utah, talking on the cell phone awhile driving is the same as driving legally drunk. Furthermore, the National Safety Council said that more than 100,000 car crashes a year involve someone who was texting.

“She shared many examples of people who ended up in jail because they texted, turned around in the car, and even pet their animals,” said Wolfram.

“I learned to be careful about distracted driving and remembered that your own life and other’s lives are in your hands,” said Sweeney.

Petrocco and the leadership class want to promote Gordon’s story on campus. “We talked about having her come back to speak to the sophomores. Most of them are getting their licenses or permits and Cami’s speech would be influential and a good message,” he said.

“The thing that surprised me the most is how much talking about my accident publicly has helped me heal. If someone in the audience has heard my message then I’ve saved a life,” said Gordon.