VanMeveren Law Group September 2018

Foundations 9 7 0 The Heads Up/Phones Down ScholarshipWinner

Horacio Garcia was undoubtedly one of the most, if not the most, brilliant professor at the University of Canoabo in Venezuela. He graduated from the University of Carabobo, the second- most prestigious in the country, with a degree in Economics and obtained multiple masters degrees after that. He even continued his education in the United States, earning his Ph.D., and as any proud, progressive, and educated Venezuelan would, he went back to share with young people looking for professional preparation all the things that he had learned throughout the years.

Over the past few months, the team at VanMeveren Law Group has been fortunate enough to read through many wonderful essays from young students regarding distracted driving. My team has read through every essay with the difficult task of choosing a winner for our Heads Up/Phones Down scholarship program. Before I announce the winner, I want to thank all of our applicants for their amazing and insightful stories. I also want to remind folks that using phones while driving remains a very serious problem on our roadways. Distracted driving numbers continue to rise and, sadly, the driver distraction rate for our young people is the most concerning. According to AAA, 58 percent of teen crashes involve driver distraction. A University of Utah study revealed that people who talk on the phone while driving are just as impaired as intoxicated drivers at the legal blood alcohol limit of .08 percent. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that texting while driving increases the risk of a crash or near crash by 23 times. Parents, please don’t use your phones while driving. Teens whose parents drive distracted are 2–4 times more likely to also drive distracted. With that, I want to congratulate Paula M. She submitted an insightful essay based on her experiences with texting and driving. Here is Paula’s essay.

Congratulations to Colorado State University student, Paula Moreno! As so eloquently written in her essay, the impact of distracted driving can be far-reaching and devastating.

Horacio Garcia was my neighbor when I was little, in Bejuma, a very small

town with less than 50,000 people, which made us very close. Horacio had a family, a beautiful and loving one, I would say. He had three sons, each one of them clever and brilliant in their own way, but just as driven as their father. At only 15 years old, Juan was excelling in high school and about to attend the University of Carabobo. Miguelangel was finishing his first year of engineering, and Carlos was finishing his education in medicine. Horacio’s wife was the only cardiologist in town, and therefore one of the most recognized and praised professionals. Horacio was a nature lover. Every day he biked to the university to teach his 9 a.m. class, a ride of an hour and a half, because he argued it was the way it had to be done. Vehicles were too polluting for his liking, plus the view on the side of the road was too beautiful to pass by unnoticed. If you have seen Venezuelan landscapes, you would understand the respect and admiration that one can have for our natural mountains and valleys.

Horacio Garcia was the future of many. Such a brilliant mind, a thorough education, and a humble heart were hard to find in the climate that was developing in my home country. The humanitarian crisis in Venezuela started with small deteriorations when I was young. Horacio Garcia’s death was one of them. On a Monday morning, Horacio was riding his bike to work and was hit by a car. On a Monday morning, Horacio Garcia was dead, a hero who performed in the most unnoticed but powerful ways, stolen by a text. Transportation routes and rules at home were not something to be proud of. In fact, they were terrible. Unsafe roadways and the lack of sidewalks and bike roads, as well as corrupt law enforcement to prevent accidents were common, and what I thought was normal until moving [to Colorado]. Horacio Garcia Continued on page 3 ...

–Bryan VanMeveren

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