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Heather Lerch, 19 – WA

Heather-Lerch-On February 23, 2010, 19-year-old Heather Lerch  lost control of her car and crashed through a guardrail on her way home from work.The impact caused the driver’s side door to collapse several feet inside the vehicle killing Heather instantly.  At the time of the crash, she was speeding and texting back and forth with a friend.

Heather was loved by most who came into contact with her. Friends say that Heather would make the newcomer feel comfortable by introducing herself: “Hi, I’m Heather. Do you want to be my friend?” Heather started a lot of friendships that way.

Heather had just graduated with honors from Tumwater High School in Washington and was studying criminal justice  at Centralia College where she had made many friends. Her interest was in forensics;  she loved to watch the television show “CSI:.” Heather  was looking forward to moving onto a 4-year college once she completed her studies at Centralia.

Heather-Lerch-.jpg 3Heather was an avid snowboarder and skier. She started skiing lessons when she was just 3-years-old and more recently, easily picked up snowboarding on a family ski vacation.

Heather had just purchased her second car. She had paid-off  her first car in less than 2 years. She would save, plan and research for anything that she wanted to buy. It was this new car that Heather was driving at the time of her crash.

Heather-Lerch-.jpg 4Heather’s  mother, Wendy Lerch, speaks to teens at assemblies and in classrooms. Heather’s mangled car is transported to schools so that teens can see the wreckage.

Wendy and Heather’s father, Dan  have a website, HeathersStory.org.  They use the site to let others know, especially teens, about the dangers of using a cell phone while driving.

Heather is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “Faces of Distracted Driving” series. View the video below: