More than fifteen people die in motor vehicle crashes associated with teenage drivers every day.
Have you been affected?
HEARTS stands for Honoring Everyone Affected, Rallying The Survivors ...
Last October, sixteen-year-old Joe Polakiewicz was driving when he looked down at his phone to read an incoming text message ... Then, he hit a tree and his car split in half.
"He sustained very, very critical injuries and almost did not survive. He spent 2 months in the hospital. It's taken him at least another 4 months after that to recover, " said Joe's mom Nancy.
Twelve years before that, at age 14, Tyler Presnell was in an accident that almost cost him his life. He was riding with his neighbor who had just gotten his license.
"He lost control and slammed into a telephone pole going about 75 miles per hour. I took the entire brunt of the telephone pole. My twin brother was in the front right seat. The pole slid right behind his seat and just took me out. Now I'm 26 and just had my 22nd surgery last year, " said Presnell.
Both boys had severe internal damage and had to have similar surgeries. Before Joe went into surgery, his mother was given Tyler's name and contact information through the HEARTS Network.
"People need a central location to go to to share their stories, come together, and know they're not alone," victim advocate Charlene Sligting-Doud said.
"I think it's just very comforting to know that obviously there are very many people who are going through the same thing we are. Kind of a support system," said Polakiewicz.
"That's what the HEARTS is about. Connecting people, sharing stories, and putting a face behind the statistic," said Sligting-Doud.
That's a statistic Nancy and Tyler don't want you to be.
"We just need to respect ourselves, that's it. Slow down. What ever is happening off the road, let it happen off the road. But on the road, everybody is involved. You can't think of just yourself," said Presnell.
"Talking on a cell phone, texting, everything else, just fiddling with the radio, eating, drinking, that is just a deadly combination, and in our case it almost was for our son," said Polakiewicz.
" Let it ring , let it ring, let it ring," said Presnell.
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