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(NECN: Jack Thurston, Colchester, Vt.) - "Everything is really hard for me," Debbie Drewniak told New England Cable News Tuesday, in a strained voice. "I don't leave my house very much."
Those really hard things for Drewniak include tasks as simple as closing a plastic bag, and even eating. "I don't cook anymore, because it's too hard to do," she said. "So everything I eat is raw or cooked in the microwave."
The Colchester, Vt. woman was left permanently disabled, and is still undergoing surgeries, after a young driver struck Drewniak as she walked her dog in front of her house in August 2011. Early this year, that driver, Emma Vieira, was sentenced to a month in jail, five months of home confinement, and five years on probation after admitting she was distracted by text messages on her cell phone just before the crash.
Now, Drewniak is about to become something of a poster child as part of a national education campaign urging drivers to put down their phones when they pick up their car keys. Later this week, AT&T Wireless will unveil the latest addition to its "It Can Wait" anti-texting campaign, which Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile have joined. Drewniak said a public service announcement will feature her story, as she asks viewers to put their cell phones away while driving.
Drewniak and her family added that a longer film made up of interviews with her and other crash victims will be distributed to nearly 40,000 schools across the country. While AT&T Wireless said it would release details on the project later this week, film industry reports like this one from Deadline.com have already revealed some details on the project. Those include naming the film's director, the famous documentary filmmaker Werner Herzog, and revealing its title, "One Second To The Next."
Asked if she thinks the message will get through and influence people to change their habits, Drewniak answered, "I hope they do. I hope they stop texting and driving."
"Nothing is so important that you have to answer that text message," added Drewniak's sister, Elizabeth Brigante. "All we want to do, our family, is try to save one more family from going through what we went through. And what we continue to go through."
Brigante noted that she is very grateful to Herzog, AT&T Wireless, and the other mobile carriers for their attention to the crime that changed her family's life forever. The state of Vermont, along with every other state in New England, prohibits drivers from texting behind the wheel.
Debbie Drewniak said she expects to walk the red carpet with Herzog at the documentary's premiere Thursday in Los Angeles. She said she hopes the national effort to highlight the issue of stopping texting while driving will help save at least one life, and get her closer to her goal of safer roadways.
"I don't want anybody to text and drive again," Drewniak said.