After Fatal Crash, Delta High Senior Gives Presentation On Dangers Of Distracted Driving
Oct 16, 2019, 10:08 PM | Updated: 10:29 pm
DELTA, Utah — After months of planning on exactly what he was going to say to his Delta High School classmates, Jace Thomas knew he should just start at the beginning.
“I’m just going to share my story with you guys,” he said while on stage during a special assembly in the school’s auditorium Wednesday morning. “We’re just going to get right into it here.”
His story involves distracted driving and the bicyclist he hit and killed.
“The crash happened on June 18, 2018,” he said to a silent crowd. “I got out and I ran over and I could tell that he was gone.”
Not a single student in the auditorium was distracted from what Thomas was saying and some had tears in their eyes.
“I don’t want any of this happening to you guys,” Thomas said while showing pictures of the crash scene.
Thomas, a senior at Delta High, wasn’t just speaking to his classmates during the assembly.
The person still living with the pain of what happened was also in the crowd, because she was there that day.
Beth Allen was riding bicycles with her 72-year-old husband, Craig Blouin, along Highway 50 near Delta on that June 2018 day.
She wasn’t injured in the crash — at least, not on the outside.
“I think the first year had been about survival and proving to myself somehow that I could survive this tragedy and move on with my life,” Allen said during an interview after the presentation. “It has been a year that I never could have planned or known how I would handle it.”
No one would blame her if she wanted jail time for Thomas.
Instead, she wanted something more.
“Definitely, I had people telling me you need to get a lawyer, something needs to happen. And I’m like, well, what’s that going to do? For me? For the family? For anybody? It didn’t make sense to me,” she said.
So she helped advocate that, as part of Thomas’s community service, he speak to students about what he learned.
Even though he wasn’t driving distracted by using his cell phone, Thomas admitted he was distracted by looking out his side window and not at the road.
When he turned his head to look straight at the road, it was already too late.
“Things can happen so fast. I just remember getting out of the car and telling her how sorry I was,” Thomas said.
To Allen, having Thomas speak about his experience is a lesson more valuable than a jail cell.
“I feel like if he reached one person, that it makes a difference,” Allen said. “If he got through to one person who may be guilty of some of the many distractions while driving, that will help.”
Allen’s son, Nate Blouin, was also at the presentation.
They’re quick to point out they weren’t there to critique Thomas for his presentation.
They just wanted to offer their support.
“There has been a lot of talk about forgiveness,” Blouin said. “I don’t know if that’s the right word because I think, what this scenario is, is understanding that we all deal with and understand. I mean, driving down here last night, I probably glanced off at the gorgeous moon four times, you know? And so, I think more understanding and realizing that I’m guilty of some things he is.”
It’s a sort of kind and caring manner not often seen.
“Your life can literally change in one second,” said Thomas at the end of his presentation.
Afterward, Thomas, Allen and Blouin met in the auditorium.
He had met them before, but he wasn’t expecting them to be so positive with his presentation.
“Very good job. Really. I mean that sincerely,” Allen said while hugging Thomas.
“Thank you,” said Thomas to her.
For everyone involved, it’s about healing and understanding we all make mistakes.
“There’s no way I can thank her enough. There’s no possible way I can do that,” Thomas said.
It’s a lesson we all can learn from.
“I’m normally a pretty happy person and I have got a lot to be happy about,” Allen said. “It’s a beautiful world that we live in.”