Caleb Sorohan had uncanny timing.
The 18 year old from Rutledge, GA, had an infectious smile and knew exactly when someone needed to see it. That genuine grin made Caleb’s younger sister, Alex, and brother, Griffin, feel as if their bond went beyond blood. There was a certain ease about Caleb that seemed to soothe those around him, and Alex knew life’s difficulties always would be easier with her brother at her side.
Alex still clings to that faith, knowing Caleb smiles every day for her even if she can’t see him.
On Dec. 16, 2009, Caleb was driving to Athens to visit a friend and shop for Christmas gifts. While returning a text message, Caleb swerved into oncoming traffic and collided with a car pulling a horse trailer.
The impact killed Caleb instantly. Ever since, it seems as if time has stood still.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens, and drivers ages 16 to 19 are three times as likely to crash as older, more experienced drivers.
Texting is particularly dangerous for all drivers. Sending or reading text messages while driving can increase crash risk by at least eight times, and the National Safety Council estimates texting is involved in at least 160,000 crashes each year.
“Maybe if he and I had known how in a split second your entire life can be gone, he wouldn’t have made that awful decision,” Alex said. “Now it’s up to my family and the other affected families to spread the word and share what we have learned.”
In the months after Caleb’s death, his friends and family decided on a tangible way to honor Caleb’s memory that would have made Caleb – someone who lived to support everyone else – extremely proud.
Alex and her classmates traveled to the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta to petition the General Assembly for passage of “Caleb’s Law,” which would make it illegal for drivers to read, write or send text messages, check email or use the Internet while driving.
Gov. Sonny Perdue signed the bill into law on June 4, 2010 – just six months after Caleb’s death.
Since helping pass the legislation, Alex has spoken at conferences around the nation about the dangers of cell phone distracted driving, which NSC estimates accounts for 24 percent of crashes.
Alex also leads a group of students who travel around Georgia giving presentations about the dangers of texting while driving.
The HEARTS Network, a nationwide community of people whose lives have been changed forever because of crashes involving teen drivers, has offered another advocacy venue.
Alex encourages parents to set a positive example for teen drivers and understand the dangers of distracted driving.
“We want to keep his memory alive and continue to spread the love for life and the happiness that Caleb had,” Alex said. “Once one young person’s life is wasted for something as simple as a text message, it should never happen again.”