'Hang up and drive,' crash victim tells Penn State Abington students

“I am trapped in this body.”

Jacy Good’s simple, chilling statement seemed to suck the air from the standing-room-only crowd at Penn State Abington.

Jacy’s fingers and toes no longer move. One foot is now larger than the other. She can’t ride her bike or go hiking anymore. Although she used to speak fluently and passionately as an Amnesty International volunteer, her speech is now slow and halting. She has delivered the same message to audiences nearly a hundred times but can’t remember the words without referring to notecards.

Jacy will never fully recover from the traumatic brain injury she suffered in a 2008 crash caused by a distracted driver. The accident “cut her family in half,” she said, killing her parents as they traveled home to Lancaster County from her college graduation.

Jacy and her fiance, Steve Johnson, told their story in all of its touching, horrifying and occasionally humorous detail to about 200 Abington students who filled Lubert Commons. The PAWS the Texting forum had been planned for months, but coincidentally it occurred just hours after the Pennsylvania Legislature passed a bill banning texting while driving. Gov. Tom Corbett signed it into law last week, and it takes effect March 8.

Abington students Courtney Chappelle and Agnes Roberson spearheaded the PAWS the Texting event.

“I could not be more proud of these two young women who poured their hearts and souls into this program,” Abington Director of Health Services Donna Monk, who advised Chappelle and Roberson, said. “Jacy’s life-altering message is told with the sincere hope that her parents didn’t die in vain. Her permanent injuries are a visual lesson to others.”

Chappelle and Roberson banded together with student organizations A Place To Talk, a peer counseling group, and Lifesavers, which promotes healthy lifestyle choices. They rented simulators so students could experience the virtual consequences of distracted driving, designed blood-spattered PAWS the Texting T-shirts, and distributed thumb rings emblazoned with the words “TEXTING KILLS.”

Jacy and Steve were introduced by state Rep. Josh Shapiro (D-Montgomery), who was heavily involved in shaping and passing the legislation. Shapiro called Jacy his hero, and he urged the students to take her story one step further.

“You can help educate the public. The battle is not over even with this legislation,” Shapiro said. “This will save lives, but it is only a first step. We also need to ban talking on hand-held cell phones on our roadways.”

Jacy and Steve, who met the first day of college and plan to marry and raise a family, described the ripple effect of the accident. Since the May 2008 crash, their lives and the lives of everyone connected to the Good family have been altered forever: Jacy’s brother, the students and staff at the elementary school where her mother taught, her father’s co-workers, Steve’s parents and siblings, the truck driver who was involved in the crash, the paramedic who was first on the scene, and the list goes on.

“The things we lost, we will never get back,” Steve said. “We see the world a little differently now, but there are good things we can pull from this. There are many, many good and loving people in this world.”

PAWS the Texting was supported by the Office of Student Life and the Student Activities Fee.

For more photographs from this event, find Penn State Abington on Facebook.

To learn more about Jacy and Steve’s story, go to http://www.distraction.gov/faces/jacy-good.html.