Victim of distracted driving shares tragedy in hopes of saving lives

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Just a couple of seconds, that’s all it took for an Albuquerque woman’s life to be changed forever.

Now, Kerry Houlihan is telling her heartbreaking story about the dangers of driving while distracted.

“As I was twirling out from underneath her car, she just left,” said Kerry Houlihan. “I was on the sidewalk, in a school zone. I never thought that would happen.”

It happened on Feb. 9, 2017, in Houlihan’s neighborhood, when a car swerved, going over a curb and onto the sidewalk. It hit Houlihan and her dog, not once, but twice, dragging her for several feet.

“Even though she was texting while driving and had her phone available, she did not contact the authorities,” said Houlihan.

A police report filed on that day confirms few details that Houlihan is able to recall.

Witnesses cited in the report also saw the driver, identified as 24-year-old Marian Cobbett, swerving down the road.

Cobbett told officers she was “messing with the radio dial.”

“They just gave her a citation,” said Houlihan.

The accident left Houlihan with her left leg severed below the knee and a broken right leg, jaw, shoulder, left arm and two broken vertebrae.

She was also in a coma for three weeks causing brain trauma and spinal damage, taking away her memory and movement in her fingers and lower body.

“My grip is not good anymore,” said Houlihan.

She doesn’t remember much of that day, but what she does know is that she may never be able to do the things she enjoyed most.

“I’ve struggled a lot with the why me. You know, why can’t I just go and play soccer with my friends like I used to? Why can’t I help my daughter with her homework?” said Houlihan.

She’s now unable to walk, feed or clothe herself. She must rely on her husband and in-home caretaker, Jennifer.

“I feel just awful,” said Houlihan.

She’s hoping that by telling the story of her tragedy, that people realize the lasting impact driving while distracted can have on people’s lives.

“I just would like people to recognize how much it hurts a family. It’s not just me, it’s my entire family. My little daughter doesn’t have a mother to depend on,” said Houlihan.

The Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office says Cobbett was recently indicted by a grand jury. She is now facing charges of great bodily injury by vehicle.

If Cobbett is found guilty, she could be sentenced to three years behind bars and fined of $5,000.

Her arraignment is scheduled for Feb. 19.

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