Distracted driving, such as texting on a cell phone while behind the wheel of a car, can change a life in a split second. Consequences can be devastating. Nobody knows that more than Alyssa Lesher, 16, of Mt. Laurel, who, in July 2012, was severely injured in a car accident involving a negligent driver and spent more than two weeks in Cooper’s Trauma Intensive Care Unit (TICU). Today, while still on her own road to recovery, she is advocating the importance of safe driving through a special fundraiser at her school, Lenape High School, as well as a website to promote awareness within the community. On April 3, Alyssa and her family presented Cooper with a check for $3,000 in support of the Trauma Program.
“The exceptional care I received at Cooper is one of the reasons why I am here today and am able to speak up about safe driving,” said Alyssa. “I want all the proceeds from this fundraiser to be donated to the hospital to help support other Trauma patients like me.”
According to recent findings by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 69 percent of American drivers ages 18-64 used a cell phone for texting or talking while driving at least once in the last 30 days.
At the time of the accident, Alyssa was just learning how to drive and was looking forward to finally getting her license. Within the last ten minutes of her driving lesson, Alyssa and her instructor were hit head-on by a reckless driver who was speeding and had illegally crossed over the double yellow lines to pass another car. The driver that hit them immediately died at the scene. Because of the severity of the accident and the damage to both cars, she and her instructor were cut from the car and immediately airlifted to the hospital. Upon arrival to Cooper, doctors found that Alyssa had punctured her heart and her lungs were collapsing. She was rushed into immediate open heart surgery and remained on a ventilator for four days.
“As a Level 1 Trauma Center, 30 percent of our trauma patients are from motor vehicle accidents and many of them are caused by distracted driving,” said Steven E. Ross, MD, Director, Level 1 Trauma Center and Trauma Surgical Intensive Care Unit. “Many people are not often as lucky as Alyssa and we are proud of her for using her own experience in hopes of helping other drivers become more aware of what they are doing behind the wheel and stay safe.”
Today, Alyssa is doing extremely well and is expected to make a full recovery. For more information, or if you’d like to make a donation, please visit stay-alive-just-drive.org.
“Cooper is extremely grateful to receive such a generous gift from a courageous young girl like Alyssa,” said Susan Bass Levin, President and CEO of the Cooper Foundation. “Safe driving is such an important initiative and Alyssa has already done a tremendous job at raising awareness through her website stay-alive-just-drive.org. With this donation, Cooper will continue to educate the community and help the lives of those patients cared for in our Trauma Center.”