Woman paralyzed in crash speaks out against texting while driving

Credit: KTVB

A video still from the crash where Ashley Zumbrunnen's life was forever changed.

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by Maggie O'Mara

Bio | Email | Follow: @maggiektvb7

KTVB.COM

Posted on November 17, 2013 at 11:41 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 18 at 8:25 AM

MERIDIAN -- Nearly four years ago, Ashley Zumbrunnen's life was forever changed in the blink of an eye. She was partially paralyzed in a car accident. The reason? She was texting while driving.

Now, Zumbrunnen is speaking out about the accident, and her message is a powerful one -- to convince you to put away your phone while you're behind the wheel.

"I was on my way on my way to work," said Zumbrunnen about the morning of the crash. "I took out my cell phone, and I wanted to say 'I love you, have a good day' to my husband."

While typing a text message, she crossed Highway 55 into oncoming traffic.

"I over-corrected, I lost control of my vehicle," said Zumbrunnen. "I felt like I was in a washing machine. Then all of a sudden, I flipped and flew in the air. I felt my body flying in the air."

When she came to, Zumbrunnen realized she couldn't move.

"I had people running all around me and all I could say is I'm paralyzed, I'm paralyzed," she said.

Zumbrunnen was taken by air ambulance to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, where doctors found she had broken her neck.

"I couldn't stand up, sit up, dress myself, I couldn't bathe myself," Zumbrunnen said. "I was a 31 year old baby, learning how to do everything."

Almost four years later, the hardest part for this now-divorced single mom is not being the mom she once was to her young daughter.

"She says to me, 'I like to go play with your friends, because they have legs, and they can do things.' She says 'Momma, I will wait. I'll wait until you walk, I'll be patient.'"

Zumbrunnen hopes to get there with hard work and physical therapy.

"I've always believed I'm gonna walk, I've always believed I'm gonna get better."

She's a student at the College of Western Idaho and wants to be a physician's assistant one day.

Zumbrunnen is also now ready to finally share her story and help put an end to texting and driving.

"I was ashamed, I was embarrassed, I mean who wants to say I was texting and it was just three little words," she said. "It's not worth it. It changes your life completely. When i go clothes shopping, I look for clothes that hide a diaper. I can't wear high heeled shoes anymore. I miss being able to play with my daughter."

Zumbrunnen is still adjusting to her new life, a more difficult life. But she knows she is here for a reason.

"I feel like I'm here to get it out there," she said. "I feel like I do have a purpose in this life, because I'm lucky that I survived."

Zumbrunnen is hoping her story will inspire others to avoid texting while driving.

She tells us she's ready to start speaking to groups and in schools. She wants her new life to matter, and she wants to make a difference.

If you would like to get in touch with Ashley Zumbrunnen, you can email her at warhoop33@icloud.com.

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