Kaitlyn’s story: The dangers of distracted driving

Kaitlyn’s story: The dangers of distracted driving
Photo courtesy: Kaitlyn Vegtor

It’s been more than a year since 21-year-old Kaitlyn Vegtor’s life completely changed. On January 7, 2016 she had a near-death experience.

“I was going about my busy life, going to go jump-start my sister’s car and was on a clear, straight country road. Then a song came on that I didn’t want to listen to,” Vegtor said.

She took her eyes off the road for just a moment to change the song on her cellphone, which caused her to crash.

“My car crumpled into me. By the time emergency personnel got there, I was knocking on death’s door,” Vegtor said.

Her car slammed into a large tractor just ahead that slowed down to make a turn.

She suffered severe brain damage and spent months recovering.

“There’s videos of me when I was in the rehabilitation center. There’s videos of me sitting up for the first time,” Vegtor said.

She had to relearn everything: eating, drinking, walking and talking. Doctors told her they thought she would be handicapped and were shocked the crash didn’t kill her.

“My neurosurgeon calls me a miracle,” she said.

As part of her recovery process, Vegtor now has a permanent reminder of what happened.

“They had to completely remove the right side of my skull. That’s how much my brain was swelling. Eventually, I had to get a prosthetic fake skull put in,” Vegtor said.

Now, trying to get back to a normal life, she’s taking a message to anyone who will listen.

“I had to almost die to learn my lesson so all I’m trying to do is make not even just kids, but adults, everybody realize the real, real dangers of (distracted driving). It takes two seconds, and those two seconds will change your life forever,” she said.

She had already spoken to students at her former high school, and just this week shared her story in a video with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, which is already gaining national attention.

Vegtor said she will always tell her story in hopes it will keep someone else from suffering a similar fate.

“It’s not worth it. It can wait. It always, no matter what it is, can wait,” Vegtor said.