On November 25, 2008, 9-year-old Erica Forney was riding her bicycle in a bike lane and was just steps from her home in Fort Collins when tragedy occurred. A 36-year-old neighbor who was driving an SUV at 25 miles per hour, looked down at her cell phone as she finished a call and drifted into the bike lane, never seeing the child in her path. Erica was struck and thrown 15 feet, landing on her neck. She died two days later on Thanksgiving Day.
Erica was born on August 25, 1999 in Fort Collins, CO to Daren and Michelle (Lambuth) Forney. She was in the 4th grade and attended Coyote Ridge Elementary School. Erica was a member of Timberline Church. She loved spending time with her family and friends and was inseparable from her sisters, Jessica and Valerie. Erica loved animals, nature, archeology, rocks and science and was an aspiring artist. She was a natural comedic person who was a very happy girl. Everyone who met Erica, fell in love with her.
The accident prompted Colorado legislators in 2009 to debate the introduction of legislation concerning cell phone use while driving with Erica Forney’s mother, Shelley, offering testimony for a ban on all hand-held cellphones. The legislation that was ultimately passed bans the use of hand-held cellphones only by drivers under 18 and bans text messaging and e-mailing by all drivers in Colorado.
Erica’s mother, Shelley Forney, also founded an organization called FocusDriven, whose mission is to educate the public about the dangers of cell phone-distracted driving and provide support for victims and their families.
Erica is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “Faces of Distracted Driving” series. View the video below: