MECHANICSVILLE (MCT) — Peggy Flockhart wants her daughter Jennifer’s life and death to be more than a statistic.
Investigators say Jennifer Flockhart, 17, died July 5 after she drove into a ditch and rolled her car because she was distracted while sending a text message. They ruled out any mechanical, medical, weather, animal or road conditions as a cause.
“Hopefully someone will learn, hopefully it will save someone else’s life,” said Peggy Flockhart, 48, of Mechanicsville.
State Patrol investigators said they found Jennifer Flockhart’s cell phone next to her at the scene.Upon opening it, they said the phone showed one unfinished message that corresponded with the time of the crash.
The State Patrol said Flockhart was ejected when her car rolled and died at the scene. She was not wearing a seat belt.
On July 1 — just four days before Flockhart’s crash — a state law went into effect making it illegal for people under 18 to use a cell phone or other electronic device while driving. The law bans all drivers from texting while driving.
Sgt. Jose Varela of the Iowa State Patrol said cell phones lead to distracted driving, but added it’s not fair to look only at cell phones.
“I’ve seen people going down the road reading newspapers, eating breakfast, shaving — doing everything. Cell phones are just the latest thing to distract us,” Varela said.
The State Patrol has been instructed to issue warnings only during the first year of the new law in order to promote awareness of the change.
It is not a primary offense, meaning drivers can’t be pulled over for solely using a phone.
Peggy Flockhart asked the preacher to make a point to all the teenagers at Jennifer’s funeral. She asked that they, and everyone else, pay more attention on the road and not succumb to peer pressure and forgo the seatbelt or answering the phone when on the road.
“I hope it swill save someone else’s life in the future. We’re all guilty of it,” Flockhart said.