SARA CUTLER | CONTRIBUTED IMPACT: Northside High School senior students view the car of Sarah Edwards, who was killed in an accident while texting and driving.
IMPACT: Northside High School senior students view the car of Sarah Edwards, who was killed in an accident while texting and driving.

Archived Story

“X the Text” campaign continues

Published 8:11pm Saturday, May 10, 2014


On May 2, Northside High School held its annual “X the Text” campaign prior to the school’s May 3 prom, raising awareness about the dangers of texting and driving.

The program, sponsored by Allstate and Ryan Whitford of Washington, brought students up close and personal to the realities of what can happen if you text and drive, said Sara Cutler.

Special guest Tracy O’Carroll of Chocowinity gave students a visual example of the dangers of texting and driving by having her late daughter’s car towed to the school, Cutler said. O’Carroll’s daughter, Sarah Edwards, was killed in 2011 while reading a text behind the wheel.

“I can talk and I can tell (the story) but having that car there is the best way to show the reality,” O’Carroll said.

O’Carroll said she visits schools all over the state to share her story and to show her daughter’s car to students. Carl Elks, a local mechanic, tows Edwards’ car, free of charge, to and from schools that O’Carroll visits. O’Carroll said she does this to show students what can happen if they text and drive.

“I hope to achieve that parents don’t have to go through what I went through,” O’Carroll said. “It is a higher percentage (of getting in a wreck) than drinking and driving. I wanted people to see that distracted driving never ends well. I ask students, ‘If you killed someone over something as stupid and simple as a text, could you live with yourself?’”

O’Carroll believes that by having her daughter’s wrecked car towed to schools and holding these events, lives are saved.

“I didn’t expect to have this reaction,” said Kristen Alligood, a student who broke down crying after hearing O’Carroll’s story.

Alligood also said the story and seeing the car impacted her in such a way that she would never look at or think about texting and driving the same. Another student, Rockne Butler, said seeing the car is life changing and makes you stop and think because it is so influential, especially right before prom.

O’Carroll also spoke to students during their lunch periods and urged them to take the pledge not to text and drive. She offered students information through brochures, bumper stickers, thumb rings and booklets that touched on the dangers of distracted driving.

Cutler said O’Carroll is an amazing person whose strength enables her to tell her daughter’s story and give students an example of the tragedy that can happen from distracted driving.

“I asked her, ‘How do you find the strength to do everything you do?’” Cutler said. “She responded, ‘I couldn’t save Sarah, but if I can save one child through Sarah and with her story then that’s what I’m going to do.’”

N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper Doug Coley and special guest Timothy Pedro also spoke to students about the dangers of drinking and driving. Pedro, who is a graduate student with Addiction and Rehabilitation Studies at East Carolina University, was driving drunk on his 21st birthday when he had the accident that paralyzed him from the chest down. According to Cutler, Pedro made a huge impact on students hearing his story.

Cutler said Northside’s principal Charles Clark considers these topics a priority in his students’ education. He plans to make it an ongoing mission, to keep it fresh in their minds.


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