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A Tragic Crash, A Daughter's Crusade

updated 04/11/2011 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/11/2011 01:00AM

JACY GOOD, 24,

White Plains, N.Y.

It was supposed to be one of the happiest days of her life. Jacy Good had just graduated magna cum laude from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa., in May 2008 and was heading back home with her parents, Jean and Jay, to celebrate. But as the happy family cruised down the highway, an 18-year-old chatting on his cell phone ran a red light, causing a tractor trailer to careen into the Goods' station wagon. Jacy's parents were killed instantly, and Jacy would have died too, if not for an off-duty paramedic who rushed to the scene. "If it weren't for him," she says. "I wouldn't be alive."

After two months in a coma and multiple operations, Good gradually learned how to walk and talk again. As the enormity of her loss sank in, her grief turned to anger. Their deaths were "100 percent preventable," says Good, who e-mailed a state representative, offering to help his campaign to ban cell phone use while driving. (The teen who caused her parents' accident faced no criminal charges.) Since 2009 she and her fiance, Steve Johnson, have spoken to hundreds of high school students and lawmakers, helping two Pennsylvania cities enact bans. "Jacy's story is so tragic," says Allentown councilman Mike Schlossberg. "It's impossible not to be moved." Her next goal: a statewide ban. "If I can get laws passed," says Good, who walks with a limp and can't use her left hand, "then my parents died for a reason."

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