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Woman warns about “distracted driving” after husband dies in crash

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Jennifer Zamora is talking about the crash that killed her husband Javier, an army veteran who served a tour of duty in Iraq.

Their daughter Maxine, 15 at the time, was also in the car, and sustained only a scrape, but was left emotionally scarred.

"It is hard to move forward, it is hard to love again, it is hard to be there for my children when I'm hurting so bad," said Zamora, who attended high school in the valley, but now lives in Fort Worth, Texas.

While she lost her husband 12 years ago on State Route 79 near Hemet, the shock, anger, and sadness have not diminished.

"It wasn't just that a vehicle impacted another vehicle, that impact crushed my life," said Zamora. 

Maxine, in 2014, after years of emotional turmoil, took her own life, leaving behind a husband and a two-year-old daughter.

Zamora says the death of Maxine's father was no doubt a contributing factor.

"There is no terminology for a parent who has lost a child," said Zamora.

Unfortunately, her experience is just one example of a growing number of crashes around the country caused by distracted drivers.

In fact, in 2013, the National Safety Council estimates texting while driving contributed to 341,000 accidents.

"Unlike people who are suffering from terminal illness, with no cure, we have the cure to this epidemic.  It is simply drive responsibly," said Zamora.

Zamora shared her story Wednesday with members of the Southern California Association of Governments, meeting in Palm Desert. 

Also speaking at the meeting, an Automobile Club representative, who spoke in support of Assembly Bill 47.

If approved it would add one point to the license of a driver caught using a phone while driving.

It would go into effect in January 2021.

"We believe this is a step in the right direction, to put more teeth into the law, to make the penalties more of a consideration for drivers," said Automobile Club spokesperson Doug Shupe. 

Zamora says she supports the bill and thinks there should be tougher laws aimed at deterring people from driving distracted.

"Why do we have to wait until tragedy strikes before we act," said Zamora.

Tom Tucker

Tom Tucker is a veteran broadcast journalist with nearly 20 years of experience. Learn more about Tom here.

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