PITTSFIELD, Ill. (WGEM)--One local student learned a life changing lesson after a texting and driving accident last summer. She is now paralyzed from the waist down. But she says she's alive to share her story and hopes it'll give you pause the next time you pull out your phone behind the wheel.
Once an avid softball player for Beardstown High School, Taylor Cooper is now in a wheelchair.
On July 5th of last year Cooper was texting and driving when she drove her car off a 20 foot embankment and crashed into a telephone pole.
"My right leg was in the passenger seat and my left leg was in my chest and I pinched my legs and couldn't feel them...so I started freaking out," said Cooper.
Cooper had broken her back in six places, broken several ribs, both of her lungs had collapsed and she had damaged her spinal cord and a kidney.
But nine months later she's alive to talk about the trauma.
At Pittsfield High School's Health Fair, Cooper told her story to 400 students hoping they'll remember her accident next time they want to text behind the wheel.
"Day to day life now is totally different. I really can't say anything is the same. If I want to go somewhere can I get in there? Or can I move around if I get in there? Or if my friends invite me somewhere can I get in my friends car and can my chair fit?" said Cooper.
Cooper's mother says the day of the wreck was any mother's worst nightmare.
She wishes she'd never let her daughter have a cell phone in the car knowing that Cooper sometimes texted while driving.
"I had said if I catch you texting and driving I will take your phone away or I will take your car away and I wish I had paid better attention and done what I threatened to do," said Cooper's mother, Kelly Kirchner.
Cooper says the hardest part now is watching softball games from the sidelines.
She hopes her experience help save another's life.
"It's not if it happens to you but when. If you're texting you're asking for it and it will catch up to you," said Cooper.
Cooper hopes to one day become a therapist and counsel people who have injuries like hers.
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