Pinellas County family wants to change texting and driving laws after a loved one died in crash

Posted at 4:16 AM, Mar 31, 2017

“Two families were destroyed here, hers and ours,” says Gwendolyn Reese.

Every day, Gwendolyn Reese thinks about her niece's smile.

“I don't want any other family to go through what we went through when we lost her,” says Reese.

Lavon Reese was a senior at Florida State University in 2015. On the last day of January, a woman going 89 miles per hour, crashed into Lavon, killing her instantly. Ashli Harvey was texting and driving.




"I get emotional. I still get teary. I miss her every day," says Reese. " I think of what her life could have been, so it's very challenging but this gives me something to do. This has been so helpful to me to fight for tougher laws."

Harvey is now serving three years in state prison, with five years of probation to follow. The Reese family says that sentence will do, but what they really want is to is get ahead of the dangerous problem.

Currently in Florida, if you are texting and driving an officer can't just pull you over for that unless they believe you were driving recklessly. The Reese family wants that to change and make texting and driving a primary offense.

"With the seatbelts, it started out as a secondary law and then it became a primary law. This is a lifesaving factor we are talking about. Not about civil liberties it's about safety on the road,” says Reese.

Reese says she will never stop fighting to change the law and hopes her niece’s story can convince you to put the phone down.

The bill is currently making its way through the Florida House and Senate. The Senate bill easily passed a committee last week. Now it is waiting for a vote in a subcommittee.