Mary Beth Lear was killed in a one-vehicle accident last Tuesday morning in Lilesville. The popular young woman was a cheerleader, a scorekeeper for the varsity basketball team and a member of the HOSA club. She was scheduled to graduate as a certified nursing assistant and had been accepted to East Carolina University, where she planned to continue to study nursing.
We may never know what caused the accident. The N.C. Highway Patrol stated that for unknown reasons, Lear's 2000 Mercury Mountaineer crossed the center line, over onto the shoulder of the opposite side of the road, then she overcorrected and went off her side of the road, down a steep embankment. Since Lear was the only occupant of the vehicle, it may be difficult to determine what caused her to lose control.
Of course, people will speculate, especially in a small town like Wadesboro. Her parents called her "the text messaging queen." It is a very real possibility that Lear could have been texting a friend while driving when the accident occurred. Of course, it's also very likely a deer or another animal may have run into her path on rural Parson Grove Church Road.
Either way, it is a tragedy that never should have happened. If Lear was indeed distracted by texting on her cell phone when the accident occurred, it is unfortunate timing. The N.C. General Assembly just passed a bill that would ban motorists in North Carolina from text messaging or writing e-mails while driving. Any of us who have text messaging plans on our cell phones are most likely guilty of this offense. We know we shouldn't, we know it distracts us from driving, but we think, "Just let me text so-and-so real quick before I forget." Many of us— like Mary Beth Lear— can even send entire text messages without looking at our phones.
All of us— teens and adults— should remember that our safety comes first, no matter how important a text may seem at the time. You can always wait until you come to a stop at a stop sign or stoplight to send that message. Whoever's receiving it can wait.
Again, it may be difficult to prove that texting and driving is what killed this promising young woman. Let's just hope that somehow, tragedies such as these can be prevented in the future.