For a Macon family, a text message sent resulted in the loss of a loved one.
"It was in 2010. Our families had gathered together in Longview, Texas for my mom's 80th birthday party. At the end of the party, Colton, my son came up to me and said, 'Can I go ride back to the house,' where my mon lived, 'with Uncle Jay?' and I said sure," says Jerry Dingmore.
Uncle Jay's wife, Betty, also rode with them. Dingmore followed just a few minutes behind.
"As they were coming over on the highway, a girl was texting and driving, and she looked up to see a car in front of her was stopped," explains Dingmore. "She veered and hit them head on, both going probably sixty miles an hour."
Dingmore says when he drove up to the accident, he got out of his car and looked for his nine-year-old son Colton.
"There was a sea of emergency vehicles all over the place."
Colton and his aunt survived the wreck with minor injuries, but his Uncle Jay died on the scene.
Dingmore says, "I kept thinking, how am I going to tell my son at nine years old, this man that he idolized, worshiped everything he pretty much did, that he's never going to see him again?"
But as Dingmore sat in the hospital with his son, he learned Colton already knew the whole story.
"He said, 'I watched him die,' and I said 'Really?' He said, 'Yeah, right in front of me dad.' He said 'He yelled when the car came He struggled breathing, and I watch him die,'" explains Dingmore.
Later, when the family learned that the other driver had been texting, Dingmore says his emotions shifted to anger.
"It was about a text. It wasn't that she had a medical emergency like she passed out or something. It was a text that was so avoidable," he says.
It wasn't just the Dingmores' lives that changed that day. The other driver was charged with criminally negligent homicide, which is a felony. Dingmore says the family asked the judge to lower that to give the young driver a second chance.
"She's still going to have to face a lot in life. She has some legal things as a result of that that she's going to have to deal with and face. She'll have to live the rest of her life knowing that she killed somebody, took a kid's idol away. She took a husband of a wife of 50-something years away," says Dingmore.
Over 3,000 other Americans died that same year in distracted driving accidents, according to a study from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
"You can be a great person and have great intentions, great standards, great morals, and all this, but do something so stupid as respond to a text while you're driving a missile, pretty much, in that car and hurt your life. Colton will never be able to have the influence of that man in his life again over something so incredibly needless," says Dingmore.
He says his son did walk away from the accident with an important lesson.
"It's just not worth it. There is no text you're ever going to get that's worth it."