TEXTING LESSON: Weekend Accident Brings Attention

A metro teacher is now in fair condition after he was hit by a teenager driver while riding his bike over the weekend. Monday, word of his recovery spread through metro schools, as did news of what allegedly caused the crash.

John Meyer has been teaching for 15 years. Meyer now works at Garton Elementary, but for seven years, he spent his days at Harding Middle School teaching special education classes.

“John is an amazing teacher,” said Lori Frericks, a teacher at Harding and former co-worker of Meyer’s, “he definitely made an impact on the kids. The kids liked him and respected him because they knew he respected them.”

So it wasn’t surprising that word that Meyer was in the hospital, recovering from a serious accident, spread quickly.

“Everyone was pretty shocked and surprised but everyone is supporting him and thinking about him so he’s got a lot of people backing him up now,” said Shannon Robertson, who worked with Meyer at Harding.

Authorities say Meyer was riding his bike just north of Ankeny, when he was hit by a car. Initial reports say that the 17-year-old driver was texting at the time.

Driver’s education instructors, like Paula Rothmeyer, use videos, stories and statistics to drive the point home about how dangerous texting and driving is.

“We have to help them understand that this is important and it’s something that can ruin your life at a young age,” said Rothmeyer.

“When they text they are used to hiding it down here,” Rothmeyer said, demonstrating by holding her hands down in her lap, “because that`s what they do in school all day so if they look down to see what they`ve texted their eyes are down their eyes aren`t even forward.  So they could be off the road for a split second, that`s all it takes.”

Fifteen year-old Mason Wells has seen first-hand what can happen in that split second: “I actually have a friend that`s had two car accident,s well fender benders, when he was texting,” said Wells, “He got lucky twice.”

But as Wells is learning in his driver’s education class, that’s not always the case.

“They actually are pretty graphic on the videos. I mean we need it though. Otherwise people don`t take it serious,” said Wells.

“We watch videos of texting and driving. Many people have gotten hurt or killed, and I don`t want to be one of those people who go to prison for texting,” said Melissa Damerville, a 15 year old currently enrolled in drivers education classes.

Others, however, still think it could never happen to them.  “My friends still text and drive. It’s not just one,” said Wells.

This is why teachers like Rothmeyer will never stop teaching the hard lessons.

“Would you want to be the one sending a text to your sister, the very last text she receives that`s the cause of her accident that kills her? And that rings home to them,” said Rothmeyer.

As of Monday, no charges had been filed in the crash that injured Meyer, but it remains under investigation.

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