Crash victim speaks to high schoolers about distracted driving

By Ashley Mitchem, Morning traffic, news reporter, amitchem@wjxt.com
Published On: Jan 28 2014 11:59:14 AM EST
Updated On: Jan 28 2014 12:06:42 PM EST

Alan Conerly

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Car crashes are the No. 1 cause of death for teens between 16 and 19, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

One victim advocate, Alan Conerly, is touring local high schools telling his story to encourage safe driving habits.

In about three years, Conerly has gone from a wheelchair to walking on his own at a slow pace.

He was a star basketball player for Fletcher High School until one day changed his life.

"I was hit by a car riding my scooter to school," Conerly said. "The woman that hit me was a distracted driver."

Conerly says although time has allowed him to forgive, he still wishes he could have his senior year of basketball back.

"I lost pretty much -- I lost my freedom to do what I wanted to do," he said. "What I really wanted to do was play basketball."

Conerly saw the driver coming his direction but said she never put on her blinker, so when she turned right into him he was caught off guard.

"She never did that, never slowed down, never looked, checked nothing. She just turned," Conerly said.

That's why he tours local high schools, to talk about distracted driving.

"Don't drive distracted, eliminate as many distractions as you can when you drive," Conerly said. "If it's your phone, put your phone somewhere, or yeah, put your phone away."

Conerly said everything happens for a reason and he hopes his tragedy will inspire drivers to pay attention behind the wheel.

"I'm just thankful that I have the gift of life and I can share what I've learned from what I've been through with everyone else," Conerly said.

Conerly spoke to Atlantic Coast High School on Monday, was going to Lee High School on Tuesday and then Sandalwood High School on Wednesday.

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