Three teens learn the dangers of texting and driving

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Graduation has come and gone for Catherine Abadie, J.C. Smith and Justin Rector but it's a moment that was almost taken before it even happened.

"I don't really remember anything from the wreck itself, or the whole week afterwards," said Catherine.

What Catherine does remember is J.C. taking her and Justin for a ride in his new convertible BMW, then waking up a week later in a Jackson hospital.

"I woke up at the rehab hospital in Jackson and didn't know why I was there or what happened."

Smith recalls driving down Old Richton Road, "I got a text message, I looked down to read it and whenever I did that, the right tire went off the edge of the road and I hit a culvert on someone's driveway."

It happened within a split second. J.C. took his eyes off the road and the next thing he knew, his car was  face to face with a tree, and his passenger Catherine wasn't okay.

"After we hit, I actually didn't open my eyes again. I sat there and said, 'this is pretend, this is fake, this isn't really happening.'"

It was very real and very serious, all because of texting while driving. Something the three teenagers considered part of their normal driving routine, nearly killed them.

"I looked up, J.C. was getting out of the car at the time, when I finally gathered my wits, I looked forward and Catherine was hunkered over, and the only thought going through my head was 'dear God let her not be dead.'"

Justin was in the back seat, he wasn't injured but definitely was in shock. J.C. had minor injuries to his wrist. Catherine was in critical condition and taken to Forrest General Hospital.

Mom, Martha Abadie said, "We had no idea how serious it was."

Catherine's parents learned, not only was she in a coma but she had two broken ribs, broken bones in her back and hand, and damaged ligaments in her right knee.

"At one point the neurosurgeon looked at us and said well now that we are done with life and death issues we can move to the ancillary injuries. That's a moment I will never forget. I had no idea that we were ever hovering between life and death."

Catherine is still recovering. She and her two friends are about to embark on a new path in life, with first hand knowledge of how just a few seconds of distraction can be deadly.

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