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WTVC NewsChannel 9 :: News - Top Stories - Texting Teen Who Hit Deputy Apologizes
Updated:
Thursday, July 3 2014, 07:21 PM EDT
Texting Teen Who Hit Deputy Apologizes
An injured deputy and the 17-year-old boy who hit him head-on while texting, meet for the first time after the accident.

The two are sending a strong messagethat texting while driving can be deadly.

"That one text is not worth your life at all, and it's not worth anybody else's life," said Nick Austin.

Austin's broken wrist and fractured ankle are healing. But, he says now he knows firsthand that texting while driving could cost someone their life.

"It's a life lesson to me, and I promise if I ever do drive again, if I ever get the courage too, I am not going pick my phone up," said Austin.

He was leaving summer football camp at McMinn County High when his car drove across the center lane.  He says he was texting a friend when he hit the patrol car head-on. 

Thursday, for the first time he came face to face with the man inside that patrol car, Deputy Randy Gabrel.

"I'm happy you're alive and I'm sorry about what happened. I made a mistake I really did," said Austin.

"He's man enough to admit what he did was wrong, and I accept that and we want to move on and make a positive situation come out of this," says McMinn County Deputy Randy Gabrel.

While Austin is unable to play football next season, Deputy Gabrel waits to return to work until he recovers. All after a horrible mistake, they both say could've been prevented.

"I didn't think it would happen to me, and it did, and it could have turned out a lot worse," said Deputy Gabrel.

It'll take months for Deputy Gabrel and the teen, Nick Austin, to fully recover. Austin is facing a texting while driving charge.

The McMinn County Sheriff's department is taking steps to make sure people take driving behind the wheel more seriously.

Sheriff Joe Guy says both Deputy Gabrel and the 17-year-old, Nick Austin, are grateful to be alive. He wants this accident to serve as a reminder about the dangers of texting while driving. 

That's why the department is now taking a stand to prevent others from making that irresponsible decision.

"We're actually partnering with our local Dodge Dealership to display the patrol car. We're working with our schools to promote a no texting and driving program," said Sheriff Joe Guy.

Sheriff Guy says they'll likely start their no texting and driving program at schools this fall.

 
By Jerry AskinTexting Teen Who Hit Deputy Apologizes

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