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Wreck survivor: Don't text while driving (w/video)

By Carolina Astrain
Jan. 9, 2014 at 5:05 p.m.
Updated Jan. 8, 2014 at 7:09 p.m.

Doctors said Chance Bothe, 23, would not survive after he was seriously injured in a one-vehicle wreck in January 2012 caused by his texting a friend while driving. Two years later, Bothe is still dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic brain injury but is using his injury to make a difference by speaking publicly about the dangers of distracted driving.

Chance Bothe strums a guitar searching for the right chord inside his mother's Victoria apartment.

He pauses, touching his left cheek, where a titanium plate rests underneath.

Two years ago, the 23-year-old Ganado native survived a one-vehicle accident caused by his texting while driving.

"My cheekbones, eye sockets, my nose and sinuses and my forehead were all completely crushed," Bothe said. "I'm supposed to be an amputee, but they took bones out, and now, I have a steel rod in my left leg."

Since his recovery from his Jan. 24, 2012, crash, Bothe has devoted his time to advocating against distracted driving.

He has spoken to employees at Pioneer Natural Resources and gone on to record an anti-texting while driving commercial sponsored by AT&T and MTV, Bothe said.

TIRR Memorial Hermann produced a video documenting the accident and Bothe's recovery at the hospital.

Vicki Bothe, Chance's mother, described the accident as "every parent's worst nightmare."

When she first saw him at the hospital, she said he was unrecognizable.

"He didn't look like my child at all," his mother said. "His face was completely crushed from the cheekbones up."

Chance Bothe, a former Texas State University and Victoria College student, suffers from a traumatic brain injury, or TBI, which can cause epilepsy and increases the risk for Alzheimer's disease and other brain disorders.

"I get very angry very easily at things that shouldn't make me mad," Bothe said. "I never had headaches before, but now, I get extreme headaches."

Department of Public Safety Trooper Gerald Bryant said he's seen an increase in wrecks caused by distracted driving during the past couple of years.

"We run across a lot of accidents where people are unwilling to admit they were texting at the time of the accident," Bryant said. "But when we subpoena their phone records, we can find the time their last text message was sent."

Distracted driving, which also includes talking on the phone, eating or changing music in a moving vehicle, in general is a problem, Bryant said.

"Text when you have the time," Bryant said. "That text is not worth your life or anyone else's."

Victoria civil attorney Jim Cole is a member of End Distracted Driving, a national group with student awareness initiatives.

Texting while driving is not illegal in Texas - except in school zones - but Cole said it's better to be safe than sorry.

"From a civil liability standpoint, you're likely to be found responsible for the accident if you've been texting," Cole said.



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