Crash Victim Has a Mission to Stop Distracted Driving

By LeAnne Gendreau
|  Tuesday, Oct 29, 2013  |  Updated 2:01 PM EDT
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Crash Victim Has a Mission to Stop Distracted Driving

NBCConnecticut.com

Carl Werkhoven, of South Windsor, is trying to put an end to distracted driving.

Four years ago, the world changed for Carl Werkhoven, of South Windsor, and his family.

He was at the corner of Sullivan Avenue, or Route 194, and Pierce Road in August 2009 when he got into the collision that would cost him his leg.

On Tuesday morning, wrapped in warm clothing to tolerate the chilly temperatures, he sat on that very corner to make his public appeal for people not to text and drive.

He was surrounded by anti-distracted driving signs “Please I Beg You,” one said. “Make a Difference,” was the message on another.

Parked on the side of the road was a motorcycle with a sign that says:  “Stop Texting – We See You.”  The signs are the brain child of a West Hartford seventh grader who launched her own anti-texting while driving campaign.

Werkhoven said his mission is not about what happen to him. It’s about safety in general. 

“The car or truck, it’s a weapon. It’s like a loaded gun -- no more, no less – and they need to grab the bull by the horns, and I hope I take this all the way to Hartford,” he said. 

Werkhoven said he has seen so many near misses and this is a way of channeling the anger he has toward people who are on phones and cellphones.

“I don’t want somebody else to go through the pain that I went through. Nobody would know what it’s like until they lose a limb, or I don’t want someone to lose a sister, or brother, mother, father , daughter, son, because of some ignorant person on a cell phone,”  he said.

Part of what Werkhoven is looking for are stiffer penalties -- $1,000 for a first offense when someone uses a cell phone while driving and to lose a license for two to three years for a second offense. 

“I want South Windsor to set a precedent,” he said. “I can’t leave my house and go half a mile without somebody almost hitting me and I am tired of it.”

Police said the crash happened on the night of August 12, 2009.

A vehicle made a left turn into Werkhoven's path of travel. He injured his back and his foot needed to be amputated below the knee.  Neither was found to be on a cellphone, police said. 

The other motorist was cited for a restricted turn.

“The physical part of it is tough enough, but the mental part is even tougher. … I never understood what PTSD was like and I know I have anger issues now and I think I have every right to be angry,” he said.

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