Father of nursing student talks about distracted driving 6 years after daughter was killed in crash

Father of nursing student talks about distracted driving 6 years after daughter was killed in crash

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Thursday morning marked six years since a tragic crash that killed five Georgia Southern University nursing students - Morgan Bass, Caitlyn Baggett, Emily Clark, Abbie DeLoach, and Catherine McKay Pittman.

They were on Interstate 16 headed to Savannah for clinical training.

The crash six years ago impacted not only the families those young ladies were born into, but the family that they joined here at Georgia Southern, specifically the College of Nursing.

Visit the College of Nursing and you’ll see reminders. A wreath of ribbons shows hand written messages to remember the young ladies killed. Outside, Crepe Myrtles planted for the five students killed and two injured shade a memorial patio.

“It’s still very much a part of our story, here on this campus and in our department,” said Dr. Melissa Garno, GSU College of Nursing.

It happened on Interstate 16 in standstill traffic due to an accident up ahead. A tractor trailer that didn’t slow down struck their two vehicles.

A judge sentenced the driver to five years in prison for vehicular homicide. The case prompted the State of Georgia to pass laws against drivers using their cell phones behind the wheel. Jimmy DeLoach’s daughter Abbie was one of the five killed and he and other parents pushed for the law.

“It saves thousands of lives, it really has. Unfortunately, those five that were taken was because of distracted driving,” said DeLoach.

DeLoach’s foundation has helped create scholarships at the university to help faculty prepare new generations of students to help others and other these five lives lost.

“We won’t forget, we can’t forget. We don’t want to forget. Because it’s part of who we are.”

Dr. Garno says the young ladies’ memory, legacy, and impact will carry on.

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