Local woman appears in PSA for distracted driving
PADUCAH — The walk inside, though labored, is nothing compared to what goes on inside Neuro Restorative Kentucky.
Hillary Coltharp, 31, spends hours in extensive therapy, working to rebuild her life.
"Oh my gosh," she exclaims, grabbing a pen and marking a 100 percent on her paper as her therapist tells her she's aced her latest activity.
To fully appreciate that score, we must take you back. It was Labor Day 2007, as family waited for Hillary to join them at a restaurant.
"She said she was four miles out and told us to order fried ravioli. That was the last we ever heard from her, " mother Shawn Coltharp remembered.
Her dad Paul was so concerned, he left the restaurant and began looking for her. His worst fears were confirmed when he spotted her white Volkswagen along the side of the road.
"Traffic was backed up, there had been an accident," he said, his voice choked with emotion. "You just want to go back five seconds before that happened and fix it and from that moment, surely everything would be okay."
The family never got that five seconds. They embarked instead on a five-year journey Shawn recorded every step of the way.
"Tonight is another night I will cry myself to sleep. A nursing home: it is what I feared the most. It is not a place I thought I'd ever have to see my 26-year-old daughter reside," she said, reading aloud from a blog.
From first steps to household chores, everything must be re-learned.
"It's like starting all over," Paul said.
Most days, admittedly, are a struggle. In fact, during our time together, Hillary struggled at several points to find the words.
But, there is one message she has absolutely no trouble getting across, "That text wasn't worth it."
It's a message her mother is grateful and proud she is able to share.
"I think this is the point where she takes over and begins defining where her life goes. It's a very proud moment."
April is Distracted Driving Awareness month and Hillary will appear in two PSA's that will play statewide. To see them, click here.
Crashes blamed on distracted driving killed 5,500 people in 2011, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Half a million people were injured. And in 2009, 20 percent of injury crashes involved reports of distracted driving. For more on Distracted Driving Month, click here.