The Great Hang Up: Remembering loss of friend to distracted driving

    10:01 AM, Feb 18, 2012   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Next Friday will be the fifth anniversary of when one Little Rock woman survived a deadly crash but lost her best friend. Tonight, we introduce you to one survivor who sees signs of what distracted driving can do every day.

    Five years of greeting customers and helping clients with their car repairs, Jamila Phillips sees the results of automobile accidents every day. Some are fender benders, but some are much more severe. She says, "It's disturbing! You know, especially for being on the opposite end of distracted driving. Whether it be texting, whether it be alcohol; I've been on the opposite end of it. It leaves people without parents, without children, without family."

    The vehicles serve as a daily reminder to Phillips who is also marking another five year anniversary of the night she lost her best friend. She says, "Me and my best friend were on our way home. We'd been to a birthday party and she was taking me home and we were hit head-on by a drunk driver."

    Her friend, Skye Beauford, was killed. Jamila says, "My left ankle was crushed. My right knee, they had to clean it out and I've got a horrible scar. And my right shoulder was dislocated."

    Skye left behind a daughter Kiah who now she calls Phillips her godmother. Jamila says, "It was definitely hard my first time seeing her after the accident because she had this look on her face that if she saw me, she was going to see her mom because we were pretty much inseparable. We were always together."

    Repairmen in the shop stay busy, trying to smooth over the accidents of drivers from across the state. They don't always see the car-owners, but Phillips does in the front.

    A victim herself, she sees their emotions, feels the frustrations, of people affected by those who text and drive. She says, "There have been times when someone comes in and--because they are still shaken up or irate at the fact that someone was either texting and driving and hit them. We get a lot of stories about why people are here. We don't get many confessions that says, 'Hey I was texting and driving and I ran into something!' But if you're on the opposite end of that, you're very vocal about it!"

    This car repair professional wants to help spread the word so we are all more aware of the dangers of distracted driving. Jamila says, "I'm not gonna sit here and act like I'm the perfect person. But it's just something we all need to be more cautious of."

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