texting

Man texts, 'I need to quit texting,' before driving into ravine

Aug. 3, 2012 at 9:08 AM ET

Courtesy of Vicki Bothe /

About six months ago, Chance Bothe typed out a text message while driving down a familiar Texas road. It was a simple "b right there," but it changed the 21-year-old man's life. While sending it, he veered off the road and into a ravine. Instead of visiting his pal, the young man wound up in a hospital, battling for his life.

Even more chilling was a message he'd written in the moments prior to that: "I need to quit texting, because I could die in a car accident," he'd typed. Luckily for him, the prophecy was only partly right.

The Victoria, Tex., college student had been driving home, to Ganado — less than 40 miles away — after an early class on Jan. 24. Based on what his family managed to piece together later, the young man had been texting his childhood friend throughout the drive.

They were having an argument of sorts, when Chance missed a slight curve in the road. He drove straight through it and his truck slid — what his mother estimates is 20 to 30 feet — into a ravine.

Courtesy of Vicki Bothe /
Chance Bothe, prior to his accident.

"It affects everyone, it's just not worth it," Chance's mother, Vicki Bothe, told TODAY.com, referring to texting while driving.

The nursing home administrator is certainly more aware of that reality than many of us. Bothe is one of the forces behind UnSend, a nonprofit foundation she helped create after her son's wreck, in order to spread awareness of the dangers of texting and driving.

Bothe provided TODAY.com with a copy of the journal she kept after her son's accident and spoke in detail about the six months that have passed since the morning that turned her family's life upside down.

"I'd never seen so many first responders. There were so many lights. The whole town was full of emergency personnel. I knew at that time that it was not a good situation," she said, while describing the moment she drove up to the scene of her son's accident.

"Luckily [the accident] was witnessed," Bothe told TODAY.com. "No one would've seen him if it hadn't been witnessed. It's so far down the road."

Courtesy of Vicki Bothe /
Chance Bothe's ventures outdoors for the first time after his accident.

Two men ran to the crash site and began to pull Chance out of his truck. They hesitated, Chance's mother said the men told her later, because they recalled cautions that injured individuals shouldn't be moved. Once they noticed Chance taking a big gulp of air, they decided again to move him. And just as soon as they'd gotten him away from the vehicle, it erupted in flames.

"I have a hard time driving by the accident scene," Bothe said, recalling panic attacks she has when near the area.

The hospital "found that he had a open compound fracture to to his left ankle, a punctured right lung, multiple facial fractures along with lacerations, a severe skull fracture with some apparent head trauma with a small brain bleed," Bothe recorded in her journal's first entry. Doctors later confirmed to the family that Chance suffered severe head trauma. He's still recovering from all the injuries.

"He's a million dollar kid," Bothe said, describing the procedures, including two complete facial reconstructions, Chance has undergone in the past six months. "Most days he does pretty well, but there's a pretty significant change in his personality."

"He had to learn everything over again," Chance's mother continues. "He had to learn to speak with proper voice inflection. He had to learn how to convey emotion. Prior to the accident, he was an extremely intelligent child. He painted, he played music, he was a math whiz."

Now Chance is joining his family on a mission to share his story. Chance's mother, his sister, her husband, and two of Chance's close friends founded UnSend, a foundation determined to raise awareness about texting and driving.

"So here is the question. What can you do? Make a pledge and take a stand to 'Keep It In Your Pants!' That text can wait. Your life cannot. Don’t let a text message be your famous last words," the foundation's temporary website pleads.

"They just need to understand, don't do it. Don't do it. It's not worth losing your life," Chance recently said, according to NBC affiliate WAFF in Huntsville, Ala. "I went to my grandmother's funeral not long ago, and I kept thinking, it kept jumping into my head, I'm surprised that's not me up in that casket. I came very close to that, to being gone forever."

"We're not comfortable being in the spotlight," Bothe said, before explaining that her family is pushing forward and sharing Chance's story anyway. "I don't want another mother to go through this."

This story has been updated, and contains reporting from Tricia Forbes, WAFF in Huntsville, Ala. Here is a link to her original piece, which first ran in this space.

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