HOUSTON Megan Small was A 21-year-old promising pharmacy student at Baylor University when her parents got a call that stopped their hearts.
She says there s been a really bad accident and the only words that came out of her mouth was Megan s dead, said Megan s mother, Patricia Small. I just dropped the phone.
The caller was Laura Gleffe, Megan s best friend.Gleffe had been following behind Megan in her own car as the two young women headed back to school.
All I remember is seeing Megan s car exploding and the debris flying into my car and then rolling off the road, said Gleffe.
Gleffe had swerved to avoid the accident in front of her and suffered a concussion when her car flipped over.
It was Thanksgiving weekend in 2007.A lot of college students were on the road heading back to school.Behind the wheel of a pickup truck was Jason Reed Vestal, a Texas A & M student, who accident investigators say crossed into Megan s lane and struck her car head on.
The Small s attorney, Hunter Craft, says Vestal claimed he didn t remember the accident and didn t have a cell phone in the car.The Small s attorney found out differently.
He (Vestal) had sent or received 15 text messages and placedseven phone calls within that very short period of time up to the accident, said Hunter Craft, the Small s attorney. And in fact, he was receiving a text and possibly trying to return that text at the time when he crossed the center line and hit Megan.
Megan s father, Kevin Small, was shocked by what their attorney uncovered.
He said, this is what we found, said Kevin Small. We subpoenaed his phone records and you re not going to believe what you see, and I didn t.
The evidence added up to a $21.8 million award from a Robertson County jury.
Twelve of them unanimously decided in their heart of hearts, that this was the kind of message they wanted to send, said Craft.
We were not in it for the money, said Megan s mother. We just wanted closure, answers and healing. And basically to send a message to the community that texting and phoning behind the wheel is wrong.
It s a message her family hopes other drivers will remember when they re behind the wheel.