SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – For Emani Lawrence, her birthday is always bittersweet. It was her birthday 14 years ago when she last saw her grandmother alive after a distracted driver hit her.
"He ran a red light and t-boned her driver's side," Lawrence said.
And as those wounds continued to heal, Lawrence fell victim to distracted driving once again. This time, she was hit just one week before taking the California Bar Exam. And now, she's using her story to remind others about the importance of not driving distracted.
"It's something you don't even think about," Lawrence said. "It's a phone - you wouldn't think it's a weapon to kill someone, but it's distracting what it does to the brain. It takes so many lives, my grandmother's; it could have been mine."
AAA said every day, nine people are killed in accidents that could have been prevented. In 2020, more than 3,000 people were killed because of distracted drivers, 105 of those were in California.
Lawrence said she's hopeful that when drivers hear her story, they'll think twice before reaching for their phones while in their seats.
"Put the phone down. Know it can wait; that call, text message, it will all be there when you're done," she said. "You don't want to lose someone; it haunts you forever. It doesn't ever leave."