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Melanie Johnson's Story

"In our situation we survived, and we feel so grateful, but so many people don't."

The moment we were hit, I reached up and I closed my eyes. I told myself, ‘I’m going to die right now,’ because I was aware of what was happening, and I knew it wasn’t going to be good.”

In May of 2017, Melanie Johnson, her husband Pat, and their four kids were hit by a distracted driver while traveling home to Bismarck after spending Mother’s Day weekend in Cavalier, ND.
During their drive, the Johnsons came upon a semi pulling a John Deere combine. The large piece of machinery had its axels sticking out farther than the semi, making it a wide load.

Pat changed lanes in order to pass the semi, and Melanie started to notice the semi veer over into the passing lane.

"As the semi is inching out I kind of notice him, but the problem in this situation...he didn't stop," Johnson recalls. 

Aside from scratches from broken glass, Melanie and her family were miraculously unharmed. It wasn’t until later that Melanie learned what caused their crash: distraction.

"So, this is distracted driving at its finest - the person was reaching for his drink. As soon as I read that I started to cry instantly because I'm like, 'I hope my family is worth more than your big gulp, or your bottle of water, or whatever.' Just the idea of that momentary distraction wiping out a family. I don't think it's worth it."

As a way to cope with the trauma of almost losing her family to a distracted driver, Melanie tells her story.

"On a personal level I want people to know that the choices you make can affect others. When you are driving that motor vehicle, you need to understand that you're responsible for your own actions and the actions of that vehicle."

Melanie hopes that whether you're an occupant or a driver, you will eliminate distractions in the vehicle.

"Hopefully you think of my family and my story. If we can save that from happening to another family, then I think telling my story is worth it."