Jacy shares a Good message with Warwick students

By on May 3, 2017
Jacy Good and her husband Steve Johnson at Warwick High School.

Jacy Good and her husband Steve Johnson at Warwick High School.

Back when Jacy Good was a senior at Warwick High School, she never imagined she would have a career as a public speaker.

She never imagined she would meet Oprah Winfrey or she would choose her wedding gown on the “Say Yes to the Dress” show at Keinfeld Bridal in New York City.

On Friday, April 28, Good was back at her alma mater, 14 years after she graduated in 2003. Now 30, she was there with her husband, Steve Johnson, and they had a message for Warwick students.

“I’m here to ask you to hang up and drive,” said Good. “When you are driving, don’t text, don’t talk on the phone, don’t let yourself be distracted. It only takes a moment to change lives forever. Pay attention.”

Good and Johnson know what a momentarily lapse of attention can mean. In 2008, just hours after Good graduated from Muhlenberg College with honors, she and her family were returning home with all of her belongings from her college dorm. She was in the car with her parents, Jay and Jean Good, while her brother Jared was following behind. The last thing Good remembers is stopping for coffee at the Sheetz on Route 222.

Her father was driving and neared an intersection. At the same time, an 18-year-old young man was entering the same intersection. He picked up his cell phone to take a call. Distracted, he went through a red light. A tractor trailer driver tried to avoid his car and ended up smashing into the Good vehicle.

Jay and Jean Good did not survive the crash. In the crumpled car, Jacy was still alive. An off-duty volunteer paramedic rushed to the scene and kept Jacy alive until the ambulance arrived. She is forever grateful to Dave.

“From then on, I don’t remember anything,” said Good, who suffered multiple injuries, including a debilitating head injury.

Steve Johnson remembers what it was like to get a call from Reading Hospital. He had been trying to text and call Jacy after they each headed home after graduation. At Muhlenberg, they were sweethearts who met on the first day of classes. He was back in New York and thought it was odd that she didn’t text back. At the hospital, they noticed that Johnson’s number was on Jacy’s phone numerous times.

“The chaplain called to tell me Jacy had been in an accident,” says Johnson. “I was devastated.”

Johnson and his parents rushed to Reading. From her brother, they found out that Jacy’s parents had died. She underwent surgery. She was still unconscious. From that point on, Johnson stayed by her side, and prayed.

“You see, this is a love story,” Johnson told the students, as they sighed. “A love story and a tragedy.”

Good’s survival was day by day. Two weeks later, she woke up. She thought Johnson was her brother, Jared. Many months of rehab and physical therapy followed. It was three years before Jacy could function in her day-to-day life. She had to learn to talk, to walk, to brush her teeth, to dress herself. Even now, the left side of her body shows the damage she suffered and she cannot use her left hand.

“Before the accident, I was all set for my dream job with Habitat for Humanity in New York,” said Good, who hoped to get married, have children and work in a career helping people.

LR20170504_JacyLastPhoto

Jacy with her family, parents Jay and Jean and brother Jared, during her college graduation day. This was the last family photo, as her parents were killed in texting while driving accident later that day.

 

She is on her way to doing many of the things she always wanted to do. She and Johnson were married in 2013, after she was selected to choose her wedding gown at the famous Kleinfeld’s in New York. She didn’t have her mother, beloved Ephrata school teacher Jean Good, there to help her. She didn’t have her father to walk her down the aisle. She did have her loyal husband, Johnson, by her side as he had been for the past five years.

Together, Good and Johnson — she kept her maiden name as a tribute to her parents, plus, as she says, “It’s a Good name,” — travel all over the country spreading their message of the dangers of distracted driving.

Good is indeed in a career helping people, though she never could have imagined she would be a public speaker and safe driving advocate. She has even been a lobbyist, trying to get Pennsylvania state laws changed to penalize those who text or talk on their cells while driving.

Research has shown that even hands-free cell phone use is dangerous. Talking on the phone distracts drivers and limits their perception of the road.

“I need you to share my story. And whenever you are tempted to send a text or pick up a call or even get directions when you are driving, remember what happened to your friend Jacy. Tell your friends,” said Good. “I need you guys to help me carry on my parents’ legacy.”

It was a message that rang true for Delaney Hertzog, 19, a 2015 Warwick High School graduate. Hertzog suffered serious head injuries in a 2015 fall car accident in Leola. She has gradually recovered from her injuries and has her own message to Warwick students.

“I made the terrible mistake of getting into a car with a drunk driver,” said Hertzog. “I knew better, but I still did it.”

Hertzog recalled she and three friends piled into a car after an evening out partying. They had all been drinking, and that’s why she didn’t think about the dangers of getting into the car.

It’s not enough to not drink and drive yourself, she said. It’s important to not let others drink and drive, or to text, use cell phones or anything else that puts people at risk.

“It happens so fast and it changes your life forever. I reached out to Jacy after my accident and she is my role model,” said Hertzog, shortly before Good’s presentation. “You have to keep sharing the message so that people will listen.”

Laura Knowles is a freelance feature writer and regular contributor to the Record Express. She welcomes reader feedback and story tips at lknowles21@gmail.com.

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