(ALPHARETTA, Ga.) — The death of a close friend who lost control of his vehicle as he sent a text message on his phone has prompted one man to show the public the dangers of texting and driving.
Cody Scott Valentine was driving along a dark and winding road near Ball Ground, Georgia in the predawn hours of April 3.
He was typing a text message to his girlfriend when his red Toyota Tacoma crossed the middle of the two lane road and veered off at a curve. His truck over turned and smashed into a tree. He died on the scene.
Cody was only 21. His story, however, now lives on as a lesson to drivers across this north Atlanta community.
Mike Sosebee, the owner of an Alpharetta business where Cody was employed, has placed the damaged truck on display in front of his company as a warning to teens and adults on the dangers of texting while you drive.
Drivers passing by The Grace Company firewood and tree service located at 5665 Atlanta Highway, stare puzzled at first by the grim memorial. Most slow down to witness the sight.
The truck’s midsection and cabin are caved in and the windows are broken into tiny pieces from the tree’s high speed impact.
A lone American flag flies high over the truck with a blue banner which reads in bold print, “Texting and Driving Kills”. Cody’s picture also adorns the banner which hangs over the vehicle.
Cody’s parents, Dennis Valentine and Fawn Baty, support the idea and hope their son’s death will now promote an awareness in young adults on the dangers of driving and texting.
“It’s great what Mike’s doing,” Ms. Baty says of the truck’s display. “He was quick to jump on the bandwagon.”
Parents can be seen pulling up to show their teenagers first hand why not to text message as you drive.
Drivers slowing down to take a long look at the memorial sight have caused a few traffic near misses which is why Mike is looking to move the damaged vehicle to a lot next door in the near future.
Several parents this reporter spoke with support the idea.
“The sight of Cody’s truck reminds me to put down the phone while I drive,” Shannon Lewis, a mother of two who lives a few miles away, stated. “I can’t think of a better way of getting the message across.”
Cody’s birthday came and went in September as his family recalled the spirit of a hardworking young adult.
Ms. Baty described Cody as “a good child. God has blessed me well.”
Cody’s mother has gone a step further to create CodyValentine.com to both educate and raise awareness of this new 21st century danger.
Ms. Baty states she welcomes donations to help keep the site running, and that multi-colored Thumb Bands can be purchased on the Web site which are intended to remind you not to text while behind the wheel.
In recent weeks, Ms. Baty has begun visiting high schools to talk with large groups of teens in the hopes of saving the life of another. Known as “Ghosts Out”, she works with Cherokee County firefighters to educate the students.
Cody’s funeral last April has not been the last attended by Ms. Baty of someone lost to texting and driving. She attended a funeral in August for a young lady who had attended high school with Cody.
For a public who did not know of Cody, they are now listening to a somber message intended to save several lives. For the many who have lost loved ones in tragic accidents, it’s a message much needed and is being well received.
(Charles Atkeison is a space and science writer: Twitter @AbsolutSpaceGuy. Subscribe to his knotmove.com news feed.)