HARTFORD – Henry Flynn was the “prime example” of a father and family man, as he and his wife had a child of their own but also took guardianship of two other children in their family, his wife Kelly Flynn said.
Henry Flynn was a devoted member of the church they belonged to and appreciated by veterans for the work he did for their gravesites at cemeteries.
Flynn was killed by a distracted driver on Oct. 24, 2017. “We need to make distracted driving laws a lot stronger than they are so this does not happen to somebody else,” said his wife Kelly Flynn.
Kelly Flynn shared the story of her husband Thursday morning outside the state Capitol as part of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and the kickoff of a new AAA campaign, “Don’t Drive Intoxicated, Don’t Drive Intexticated, a sobering message from AAA.” Members of the Connecticut State Police, the Police Chiefs Association, former and current legislators, state officials, representatives of Hartford Hospital, and more were on hand for the campaign kickoff.
The campaign features two public service announcement videos, one featuring a mom driving and the other portraying a dad, which will play throughout 18 movie theaters in the state during the month of April.
The PSA’s show the driver of a vehicle with children in the back seat holding a beer, with a narrator saying “you wouldn’t do that, so why do you do this,” as the scene changes to the driver texting on a phone. The driver is swerving on the road and eventually appears to crash into a stopped vehicle.
Nearly 20,000 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver between 2012 and 2017, with more than 3,000 dying in 2017 alone, said state Department of Transportation Deputy Commissioner Anna Barry.
Sending or receiving a text message takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, Barry continued.
“We are trying to change driver behavior,” she said, while sharing a national high visibility campaign between April 2 and April 30 called “U text. U drive. U pay.”
Also at the campaign kickoff was Rhea Bhat, a freshman at Darien High School, who was hit by a distracted driver about two years ago when she was 12. Bhat said she was crossing the road after getting off her school bus when a driver missed the stopped bus and her, but the mirror of his car smashed into her arm.
The driver wasn’t even using his phone, Bhat said. The phone had started ringing in the passenger seat of the car and the driver glanced over at it for a split second when he hit Bhat, she said.
Bhat walked away without any severe injuries, but said she had nightmares for weeks following the incident. She is still sacred to cross the street today and it took her a long time to trust herself to dance again.
“It’s important to know that although one person is physically affected, there are many other people that are mentally and emotionally impacted as well,” Bhat said. “None of it is worth it if an innocent life is injured…I was lucky to survive.”
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.