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New SGI campaign highlights perils of distracted driving

Kailynn Bursic-Panchuk was airlifted to hospital after a vehicle and train collided near Weyburn on Aug. 16, 2018. SGI says its new campaign has a clear message – distracted driving kills.
Kailynn Bursic-Panchuk was airlifted to hospital after a vehicle and train collided near Weyburn on Aug. 16, 2018. SGI says its new campaign has a clear message – distracted driving kills. GoFundMe

“This is supposed to happen in movies, not in real life.”

Sandra LaRose knows too well the dangers of distracted driving.

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.

READ MORE: Teen girl injured in collision between vehicle, train 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.

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Bursic-Panchuk died five days later in hospital after her family took her off life support one day after she turned 17.

READ MORE: Teenage girl dies from injuries suffered in collision with train near Weyburn, Sask.

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.

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Bursic-Panchuk’s photo and a brief narration by LaRose end the video.

READ MORE: Mother of teen girl killed by train says distracted driving to blame

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.