Family tries to wake up drowsy drivers after teen's death -


Family tries to wake up drowsy drivers after teen's death

It's a contributing factor in at least 20 percent of all crashes: Nodding off behind the wheel. In fact, you are four to six times more likely to have a crash if you are sleepy.

A mom is now hoping the death of her son will serve as a sign to those who drive drowsy. 

"He was really a great kid to be around," Joni Fox said of her son, Kyle Kiihnl.

Kiihnl was an award winning wrestler until tragedy struck in May 2002.

"It was just a regular night at home," Fox said about the night she got a phone call that her 17-year-old son had been rushed to the hospital.

"And I said, 'Is his heart beating?' She said, 'No.' I said, 'Is he breathing?' She said, 'No," Fox said.

Kyle had been walking with a friend when the driver of a pickup truck plowed into him.

"The doctor came and told me they just couldn't get him back." In the blink of an eye Kyle was gone.

"The description that the witnesses had given of the accident indicated that the driver had fallen asleep," Fox said.

For the past ten years, this grieving family has steadily worked to make sure Kyle Kiihnl's death was not in vain.

He is the reason behind a new warning on interstate message boards throughout Tennessee.

"Our message is 'Don't drive drowsy. Just pull over,'" Kyle's Aunt, Kathi Wright said.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation agreed to share the message about a common killer on the road.

"You've got to pull over and you'll be glad you did and so will a lot of other people," said Wright.

Sixty percent of drivers say they've driven while drowsy.

"So when you think about it its huge and everybody that we talked to said ‘oh, that's happened to me,'" Joni Fox said.

Driver fatigue accounts for an estimated 100,000 crashes each year.

Many more likely go unreported because unlike driving under the influence, there is no test.

"We lost a very special person to drowsy driving so we want people to remember Kyle and we want people to be educated," said Wright.

"We think if we save one life you know we'll never know we did but we feel like we're making a difference," Fox said.

Kate Brown remembers her grandson through photos, including a five foot wide collage in her guest room.

"Then this TDOT thing, oh my goodness, I think we've all healed quite a bit," Brown said.

A life saving message that speaks to the broken hearts of loved ones left behind. 

"That was him talking to me, saying I would make a difference."

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