Jacy Good had her whole life ahead of her. After graduating magna cum laude from Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania, she was planning on moving to Brooklyn, N.Y., to live with a friend. She had accepted a job with Habitat for Humanity and was happily involved with her boyfriend of more than three years, Steve Johnson.
Jacy Good had her whole life ahead of her.
After graduating magna cum laude from Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania, she was planning on moving to Brooklyn, N.Y., to live with a friend. She had accepted a job with Habitat for Humanity and was happily involved with her boyfriend of more than three years, Steve Johnson.
All of that changed, however, in May 2008. Good was headed home from her college graduation with her parents. Her dad was driving the 90 miles back home, a trip that she had taken hundreds of times.
“In high school, I was one of those students that was involved in everything. I played volleyball and softball, ran cross country, was in the school choir and was a tutor. In college, it was the same thing,” she said at Blue Springs High School Tuesday. “The last thing I remember that day is stopping at a gas station to get some coffee. I couldn’t even tell you now what kind of coffee I got.”
Good’s life changed forever when the station wagon she and her parents were driving in was hit head-on by a tractor trailer. The truck had swerved to avoid a third vehicle who turned left on a red light. The 18-year-old driver was talking on his cell phone and did not realize the light was red.
Steve Johnson, Good’s fiancee, said he remembers receiving the call from the hospital’s chaplain. He said the news hit him “like a ton of bricks.”
“I absolutely lost it. I started bawling,” he said. “I was convinced that she was gone. The person that I had loved for three and a half years of my life, the person who my world revolved around, was gone. I only came back to life after Jacy’s brother called me to tell me that she was alive.”
Good sustained serious injuries in the crash, including a shattered pelvis, broken bones and a brain injury. Both her parents were killed. She was in the hospital for two months before being moved to a rehabilitation center. Although Good has regained the ability to walk and talk, she still has limited use of her left arm, has problems with short-term memory loss and is forced to use a cane.
The 18-year-old driver who changed her life received a ticket for running a red light and paid a small fine.
“No criminal charges were filed because talking on a cell phone is not illegal in the state of Pennsylvania. He walked away basically scot free,” she said. “We were at the wrong place at the wrong time. It could have been anyone that night.”
Good began speaking to high school students last summer as a way to get justice for the death of her parents. Blue Springs High School is the only school in Eastern Jackson County Good spoke at this week, though she is making other stops in Kansas City.
Page 2 of 2 - After speaking in front of the Pennsylvania State Legislature about passing a law banning cell phone use while driving, which failed, she spoke to the United Nation’s Council on Peace and appeared on “Oprah” in April 2010.
“For me, it is about bringing justice to two deaths that were 100 percent preventable,” she said. “I think the students are understanding that message. I think I am close enough to their age that my message is getting through to them.”
After the presentation, senior Britany Sanders was still stunned at what she had heard.
“It was powerful. It touched my life,” she said of Good’s message. “I will never talk on the phone again when I drive. I hope others will do the same.”
Blue Springs grad helps Good tell her story
Yvonne Ruff remembers being a student at Blue Springs High School in 1979. She had just turned 15. She was a sophomore at the school and had just started as a student at a new gymnastics center called Great American Gymnastics Express, when her life changed forever.
“We were driving through Blue Springs on our way to Decatur, Ill.,” she said. “My dad was driving, my mom was in the passenger seat, and my brother and I were in the backseat. A drunk driver was driving on the wrong side of the highway and hit us. I vaguely remember waking up and learning that both of my parents were dead.”
Ruff came back to Blue Springs High School Tuesday to share her story along with national speaker Jacy Good about the consequences of distracted driving.
“I wanted all of the students to hear this message,” she said about Good’s presentation. “I really think it was getting through to them because as I was watching the students, none of them were fidgeting and none of them were talking. What Jacy had to say was getting their attention.”
Ruff said the most important thing she wants students to get from the presentation is that one decision can affect the lives of many people.
“The lives of so many were affected by one decision the night of that accident,” she said. “My children do not have any holiday memories of my parents, no birthday gifts, no hugs. It is not just about the people directly impacted, but it is the families of that mom, that dad, that sister or that brother. Our job is to convince you to always make the right decisions when driving.”