Family delivers plea to stop distracted driving

By KBJR News 1

September 1, 2014 Updated Sep 2, 2014 at 9:17 PM CST

Duluth, MN(NNCNOW.com) --- You've heard the statistics. Distracted driving is the leading cause of crashes.

“In Minnesota we had 70 fatalities last year as a result of distracted driving, 350 serious injuries or over 8,000 injuries,” Sgt. Neil Dickenson of the Minnesota State Patrol said.

Standing at the scene, Jenny Northcutt recalls the moment when she arrived to the crash site.

She expected the worst.

"They were all looking extremely nervous, they threw a blanket over him, and that's what made me think he was dead," she said.

Last July, her husband Todd and their son Donny were hit while riding a motorcycle.

"As soon as I looked up, I saw him swerving right at me, and it was too late to do anything," Todd Northcutt said.

The Northcutt men were stopped at a red light on 40th Ave. West near Grand, when a motorist swerved and hit them.

“I was crying, trying to figure out what was wrong with my dad, and that's when I saw his bone,” Donny said. “Everything just collapsed."

Todd's bone was broken and sticking out of his left leg.
Donny suffered scrapes and bruises.
The driver was cited for inattentive driving, and failure to maintain lanes.

"I mean there are good days and bad days, but even on the good days there's still pain," Todd said.

It's taken Todd 13 surgeries to get to this point in his recovery.
He survived a coma, an embolism and multiple infections.
After being wheelchair bound for months, he's able to walk with a cane.
But he's scheduled for a 14th surgery soon.

"You just keep telling the kids, it's going to be okay, it's going to be okay,” Jenny said. “And deep down, you don't even really know it's going to be okay because of all the infections he's suffered. His body has been through so much trauma."

Along with Todd's physical journey to recovery, it's been an emotional one.
It wasn't until recently that he wanted to brave the scene of the crash.

"I'd always make my wife go a different way," he said.

Now, the family wants to spread awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.
"Just one kid on his phone and it will affect our lives for years to come," Todd said.

The Northcutt's and authorities want to remind you to keep your eyes forward.

State Patrol Officials say it takes 4.6 seconds to respond to a text message.

If you're traveling 55 mph, you'll travel the length of a football field before you look up at the road again.

Jennifer Walch
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