Great Hang Up: Man's distracted driving death spurs crusade

3:47 PM, Dec 3, 2012   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- Angela Clark never expected to be a crusader in the fight against distracted driving.  But as she stood in front of the wreckage of her stepfather's van at the first-ever Florida Distracted Driving Summit in November, she couldn't help but become passionate.

"I miss everything about him, I miss his smile," said Clark as she remembered Alan Vasquez, the man nearly everyone called "Buddah."

"He was a great man," she continued. "He always had the best advice for everybody, always a smile on his face.  He was my stepfather but I'd say he was my father more than anything."

But Vasquez had a bad habit and it cost him his life in a four-car accident on September 27th.

"He was notorious for texting and driving," said Clark. "So that was pretty much the question that came to anyone who knew him: was he texting and driving?"

Vasquez was driving from Marianna, Florida in the Panhandle to his home in Alabama, when he sent a text to a bandmate.  It read: "On my way, dude. I'll text you when I get to the state line."

"And the reason he said that was that he lived in Dothan, Alabama and they just changed the laws," said Clark. "He was following the law in Alabama because they had it in place.  He wasn't texting there.  He was texting in Florida."

Currently, Florida has no ban on texting and driving. 

Clark uses the wreckage from her stepfather's accident as a powerful reminder about the danger of distracted driving.  Before the recent Distracted Driving Summit, she had it parked in front of the Jackson County Sheriff's Office in Marianna.

"I called him for everything," Clark said through tears. "He taught me so much. 'I can help you do your drywall or change your brakes or fix the computer.'  But I can't call him and ask him these things."

 

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