In 2012, Liz Marks was an outgoing and popular high school student. She had a wide circle of friends, enjoyed going to football games and was just beginning a career in modeling. Then, in an instant, everything changed for the beautiful 17-year-old from Maryland.
Liz took her eyes off the road to respond to a text, and although it was only for a moment, that’s all it took for tragedy to strike. She crashed her Mazda into a tow truck waiting to make a left turn. Amazingly, Liz survived the horrific accident, but now lives with a long list of physical and emotional scars. Her story is something everyone should hear.
Liz admits that before the accident, she was addicted to her phone. She said: “I used my cell phone every second, every minute, every hour … If I didn’t have my cell phone, I felt lonely.”
At 17 years old, Liz was old enough to have some freedom and independence, but still had the teenage mentality of feeling “invincible.”
It seemed like it would be no big deal to take her eyes off the road to answer a text from her mom, Betty. What could happen in a couple of seconds?
In that instant, her life changed forever.
Liz spent a month in the I.C.U. She suffered hearing loss, lost her sense of smell, was blinded in one eye and will never be able to produce tears or fall asleep naturally again. The scars on her face and neck are also permanent.
However, what’s been even harder are the emotional scars. The once-wide group of friends quickly vanished from her life. Betty didn’t realize how alone her daughter felt until she read a post on her Facebook wall that said: “Can anybody please hang out with me? I don’t have any friends.”
Betty was heartbroken, and knew she and Liz needed to take action, to prevent others from suffering the same fate.
She and Liz teamed up with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2014 to share their story in a YouTube video that quickly went viral. They now travel the country speaking to teens and young adults directly.
The next time you are tempted to look at your phone while driving, remember Liz’s story. A second of distracted driving can change everything.