Kansas teen’s death sheds light on danger of texting while driving

The last thing Ashley Umscheid did before her pickup flipped end over end, throwing her into a ditch, was tap a single letter on her phone: K.

Short for OK, it was a reply to a text from her older sister on that spring day in 2009.

Amanda Umscheid didn’t receive the message, and she never got to talk to Ashley again. The 19-year-old Kansas State University student died a few days later from injuries she suffered in the wreck near Manhattan.

Amanda Umscheid, 29, has spent much of the three years since telling her sister’s story. She wants teens to understand that texting is not worth their life, or the anguish that family and friends go through after losing a loved one.

“It’s hard to explain what it’s like to lose a sister or your daughter,” she said. “The text can wait.”

Her message has been a part of television and radio commercials, billboards, flyers and pamphlets circulated across the country. She has been traveling from her home in Paxico as often as three times a month to high schools and colleges in Colorado, Wisconsin and New York to speak about the dangers of texting while driving.

“Having a Highway Patrol officer write in a police report that a text message sent at 12:04 p.m. is the reason she’s dead — knowing that you were the person she was talking to at the time she was killed —