By Tia Lynn Ivey, Managing Editor
Representative Dave Belton and Mandi Sorohan hosted a pledge drive on Friday, Sept. 18 at Morgan County High School (MCHS) to encourage to students to never text and drive and to honor the legacy of Caleb Sorohan, a former MCHS student who died in 2009 while texting and driving. The pledge drive garnered 400 signatures, up significantly from last year’s pledge drive, which earned 267 signatures from MCHS students. Caleb Sorohan was visiting home on winter break from college. He was texting while driving and swerved head on into the next lane of oncoming traffic. In 2010, just five months after Caleb’s death, his family, friends, and local community leaders successfully lobbied the Georgia legislature to pass a law that bans texting and driving in the state of Georgia.
Since the law has passed, the Sorohan family has worked to raise awareness about the dangers of texting and driving to prevent other families from experiencing the pain and tragic loss that they have endured. “The reason that I feel this is very important is that a distracted driving crash is a preventable crash,” said Mandi Sorohan, Caleb’s mother. “I say crash because with all of the media attention on distracted driving, anyone who is using their phone while driving should know better. So, it’s a crash and not an accident.” Sorohan holds a pledge drive at MCHS each year in conjunction with AT&T’s “It Can Wait” anti-texting- and-driving campaign. Mandi Sorohan and Griffin Sorohan, brother of Caleb Sorohan, manned one of the pledge tables as student after student signed pledge sheets, committing to never text and drive.
“It’s just a good idea,” said Deiontez Cooper, 17, who signed the pledged last week. “I signed it because the Caleb Sorohan story inspires me,” said Hailey Brawner, 15. MCHS set up tables spread out across campus to give every student a chance during lunchtime to sign a pledge. Students volunteered to run the tables, hand out pledge sheets, and bracelets, stickers, and key chains to help remind students not to text and drive. Alex Sorohan, sister of Caleb Sorohan, was featured on MTV’s texting and driving public service announcement a couple years ago, along with 15 other teenagers who also lost loved ones because car accidents caused by texting and driving. Both Alex and Griffin have spoken at various schools and conferences across the country to raise awareness since Caleb’s death. The Sorohan Family plans to continue to raise awareness however they can about this all-too-common, deadly habit of texting and driving. “I hope that everyone will pledge not to use their phone while driving, not just teens. It isn’t just a teen problem, It is an everybody problem,” said Mandi Sorohan. “We have to make our roads a safer place. It takes all of us to do that. I continue to try to educate in honor of my son, Caleb Sorohan. I think about and miss him every single day.”