Next month, it will be seven years since Megan O'Dell lost her father in a crash in Logan caused by a texting driver. In that time, O'Dell has found a way to make sure his death can help save other lives.
O'Dell, who has spoken numerous times since the accident about the dangers of texting and driving, was featured in a documentary released last week from acclaimed filmmaker Werner Herzog about the issue.
"It's kind of been an ongoing thing for years," O'Dell said. "Whenever someone approaches me for something like this, I say yes. That's how I feel like my dad's death wasn't for nothing. It's my way of coping with it."
The documentary, "From One Second to the Next," is a 35-minute short film that emotionally recounts how lives have been forever changed by texting drivers. It tells the stories of both victims and perpetrators and is available to watch at ItCanWait.com. It is being distributed by AT&T to more than 40,000 high schools, as well as hundreds of safety organizations and government agencies.
"Hopefully it will get people to realize the dangers of texting and driving," said O'Dell. "... This documentary was more powerful than anything else I've seen on the issue. It hits home, makes it more personal."
The segment in which O'Dell appears is titled "Reaching For the Stars," and details the events of the morning of Sept. 22, 2006. Her father, Keith O'Dell, and another man, James Furfaro, were driving to work, at ATK Thiokol, where they were developing rocket boosters. A 19-year-old man, Reggie Shaw, was texting as he was driving in an oncoming lane of traffic and drifted across the center line. As he passed their car on the road, he clipped them, sending them into an oncoming truck.
Shaw, who has spoken publicly several times about his experience since the accident and appeared on an episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" dedicated to the issue, is also in the film. He and O'Dell have even formed an unlikely friendship.
In the aftermath of the accident, O'Dell said, she felt animosity toward the man who took away her father. Over time, however, she came to better understand him. When he went on "Oprah" and took responsibility for his actions in front of a nationwide audience -- O'Dell said he was the only person who had caused a serious accident while texting who even responded to requests to appear on the show -- she knew it was time to forgive him. She later arranged a face-to-face meeting to tell him in person.
Now, she talks frequently with Shaw, including every Sept. 22, when one calls the other to make sure they're doing OK on the anniversary of the accident.
"It took quite a while," she said. "But it hit me that I needed to forgive Reggie. My dad was a very forgiving person, and he would want me to forgive him."
As well as raising awareness about the dangers of texting and driving, there was another benefit to doing the film for O'Dell. When she traveled to Los Angeles for the film's Aug. 9 premiere, she got to meet with the other people in the film.
"It's nice to be able to sit and talk with people who have been affected by something like you have," she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.