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COLUMN: Smartphone brings tragic end to happy moment

In a belated nod to distracted driving awareness month, which was in April, comes an ironic and unfortunate story that shows just how quickly playing with a cellphone while driving can turn on you.

A 32-year-old North Carolina woman was driving to work last week when the “Happy” song apparently spurred her to pull out her smartphone and take a few selfies and share her feelings on Facebook.

At 8:33 a.m., according to news reports, Courtney Sanford used her phone to add a post to her Facebook page—“The happy song makes me HAPPY!”

At 8:34 a.m. she was dead after her car ran head-on into another vehicle.

A sad end for someone simply trying to share a happy moment. She just picked the wrong time and place to do it.


Following up on last week’s column about the U.S. 1 and Blue & Gray Parkway crossings issues for the still-under-construction Virginia Central Railway Trail, below you’ll see selected portions of one reader’s response.

You can read the entire response on my blog,

I’ll run more responses here and on the blog in the coming weeks.

Dear Scott: As a daily walker on the Canal and Heritage paths, I understand and agree with your assessment of the crosswalk challenges that face me on a daily basis.

I routinely have serious concerns when I approach any of the crosswalks on the paths.

Even though they have signage, crosswalk lanes and newly installed “State Law” upright signs bolted to the asphalt, I feel unsafe and apprehensive at times as drivers approach these crosswalks.

Frankly, I am never completely sure that they are going to stop when I step into the crosswalk. I doubt that many of them know the law and don’t pay attention to the state law signs.

And the worst part is that many drivers are on their cellphones and thus their conversations become the priority and they pay little or no attention to the runners, cyclists or walkers. They just don’t pay attention and don’t stop! . . . Which brings me to your comments in today’s paper.

I will probably not walk on the VCR pathway because of the intersection at the Blue & Gray Parkway.

The primary way to keep that intersection free of cars whizzing through at 45 to 60 mph is to prevent them from entering the intersection when people want to cross.

Why not install the gates used at railroad crossings, parking garages, etc.?

I push a button at the intersection, the pedestrian-walk green hand lights up, even with a seconds timer, the lights turn red, the gate comes down until I am safely across. No expensive bridges. The gate obviously ensures that drivers cannot run the red light and kill a runner unless they drive through the gate.

Please pass on my suggestion.

—Robert Miller, Fredericksburg

There you have it, the first reader suggestion for the trail’s road crossings.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436