ST. GEORGE — A family’s endeavor to promote safe driving following the death of a loved one has resulted in at least 100 anti-texting signs being posted throughout Washington County.
Haley Warner and her mother, Leslee Henson, initiated the project after David Henson was killed in a pedestrian-car accident March 4.
David Henson, Leslee's husband and Warner's father, was walking on the sidewalk along Dixie Drive with his wife when a motorist believed to be texting while driving rear-ended another vehicle that then struck the couple.
David took the full impact of the car and shielded Leslee, who is still recovering from multiple injuries, including a broken neck, broken back and separated shoulder. She also has more than 5,000 stitches and staples on her head.
Warner said she decided to start the anti-distracted driving campaign during the hours she spent at her mother's side in the hospital.
“I just kept thinking, 'This is such a sad accident, and it’s so sad that it happened because of just one text,'" she said. “I was so close to (my father), and I just couldn’t go on knowing that he died from this and not change something.”
Warner said the St. George Police Department and city attorney Shawn Guzman were eager to assist with the project when she and her mother approached them in April with the idea to post anti-distracted driving signs.
To raise money, Warner and her mother organized a golf tournament and sold shirts promoting their cause. Today, Santa Clara, Ivins and a handful of Washington County schools display the signs.
In addition to the signs, Warner and her mother have also overseen the placement of two billboards promoting their cause. Warner said she plans to meet with Guzman next week to discuss posting more signs in St. George, and hopes to have even more posted further north.
“We would love to get them up all over,” she said. “Everyone needs reminders, not just us St. George residents.”
Warner said she realized the importance of promoting the message because not many people seem to know about the dangers or laws involving distracted driving, especially texting. She and her mother have attended multiple high school assemblies to share their story.
“People just need to learn that it’s dangerous, and we’re willing to do whatever it takes to get the word out there,” Warner said.
Leslee Henson said the project has helped her heal emotionally following her husband’s death.
“It’s just a really positive thing that came out of something so tragic. It keeps us going each day,” she said. “(David) would be very happy and very proud that we’re trying to do something positive and make a change so that this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
Warner said she and her mother plan to visit even more high schools throughout Utah to spread their message about distracted driving. Their ultimate goal is to prompt the Utah Legislature to pass a law fully restricting people from holding their cellphones while driving.
“I hope this campaign will continue and that it will bring awareness,” Leslee Henson said. “Hopefully we can get some laws passed and save some lives. That’s our goal.”
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company