“This is supposed to happen in movies, not in real life.”
Her daughter, Kailynn Bursic-Panchuk, was preoccupied with her cellphone when she drove into the path of a train on Oct. 16, 2018, near Weyburn, Sask.
The collision left the teenager in critical condition.
“When we got to the hospital and the doctor told me Kailynn needed surgery to relieve the pressure on her brain, I was lost,” LaRose said Thursday during the launch of a new Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) awareness campaign on the dangers of distracted driving.
Bursic-Panchuk died five days later in hospital after her family took her off life support one day after she turned 17.
Distracted driving is the leading cause of collisions and injuries on Saskatchewan roads, according to SGI statistics, and one of the leading factors in fatal collisions.
In 2017, 26 people died and 953 injured in crashes involving distracted driving.
“Hopefully people will realize that phone call is not important, that notification is not important, that music is not important; it will wait,” LaRose said.
“Life will still go on if you don’t take that call. It’s literally a split second – that’s all it takes.”
“You have control over that object – put your phone away.”
WATCH: Don’t miss out on life. #DistractedDrivingKills
SGI said its campaign has a clear message – distracted driving kills.
A 60-second video shows a young woman dreaming of her future life when she is involved in a head-on collision caused by a distracted driver.
Bursic-Panchuk’s photo and a brief narration by LaRose end the video.
Joe Hargrave, the minister responsible for SGI, said he hopes the campaign drives home the consequences of distracted driving.
“I am grateful to Sandra for sharing her voice and her daughter’s tragic story, and hopeful it will encourage people to avoid all distractions while they drive, including their phones,” Hargrave said.
“There should never be another story like Kailynn’s.”
The video will run online, in cinemas, and on television, and the campaign will be featured in newspapers, radio, and on billboards.
SGI’s June traffic spotlight is on distracted driving.