Distracted driving: The human cost of using a phone while driving

GT-Cody-Meyers-17OLYMPIA — Twenty-three-year-old Cody Meyer loved hiking at Wallace Falls in Gold Bar, Washington, and lighting off fireworks on the Fourth of July. He spent time playing video games with his father and brother and hanging out with his girlfriend, Nicole.

Arlington-resident Tina Meyer, describes her son, Cody, as her best friend. “The one thing that a lot of people don’t get with their boys is affection as they get older,” she said. “Cody was the type of man who would always give me a kiss on the lips.”

Cody was working as a construction flagger on Cedar Grove Road near Issaquah on Dec. 15, 2015, when a Jeep estimated to be traveling at 40 mph struck him. The driver, Andrew Richwine, had glanced down at his phone.

Legislation proposed this session — SB 5289 and HB 1371 — would prohibit drivers from using their cell phones while driving. Distracted driving occurs when the driver engages in activities that hinder his or her ability to safely operate a motor vehicle on a highway. Both bills passed their respective house of origin.

SB 5289 was passed by both the House and the Senate today. Next, Gov. Inslee will determine whether to veto or sign the bill into law.

Meyer was rushed to Harborview Hospital in Seattle on that December date with a traumatic brain injury, a torn kidney, bruising on his lungs, and a broken leg.

As his mother entered the hospital, she was already making plans to build a ramp in the house to help Cody move around more easily in a wheelchair.

“I wasn’t accepting what I was seeing, as bad as it was,” Tina Meyer said. “I was already making the plans to get him home to take care of him”

Tina Meyer visited Cody at the hospital each day. She arrived at seven in the morning and began taking care of her son. Everyday, Cody’s family and the Harborview staff looked for purposeful movement

Cody Meyer and his mother Tina.

Cody Meyer and his mother Tina.

Twenty days after Cody arrived at the hospital, he puckered up his lips to give his mother a kiss — his first purposeful movement.

Cody was transferred to Kindred Hospital in Seattle in January 2016, to continue his recovery. He was unable to speak, but could communicate through movements such as thumbs up and thumbs down signs. One day, he flipped off his aunt after she played Taylor Swift’s song “Shake it Off” and grabbed Cody’s hands and started dancing with him.

“That was his character, he was a screwball,” said Tina Meyers. “For him to turn around and flip my sister off like that, it was him.”

Meyer said her son was there mentally, but was struggling physically. He had been diabetic since childhood, so his broken leg wouldn’t heal.

On May 23, 2016, his brother’s birthday, Cody was transferred to Josephine Sunset Rehabilitation Center in Stanwood. The next day, Cody suffered a massive heart attack due to complications from his accident. He was rushed to Everett’s Providence Hospital where he died.