CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A local family says TxDot is displaying a horrifying reminder of a scary incident that is currently preventing a Corpus Christi man from making a living.
Colby Cole's Story
The local man is 21-year-old Colby Cole. He was previously a personal trainer and mechanic, but recently switched roles and took a job in the oil industry.
"That's something I've wanted to do for a long time. I've always liked working with my hands," said Cole." I love it, it's fun. A lot of people don't like doing it but I like doing it."
Cole had to commute to work for an average of four hours every day. In early October, he was driving home after his shift, when he crashed in his truck.
"We don't know if my tire blew out or if something ran out on the side of the road and I hit it. But first thing I remember is, I wake up on the left side hanging out the rear window of my truck." the 21-year-old recalled. "Luckily, one of my co-workers who lives in Corpus as well recognized my truck. So he called 911."
Cole was the only one involved in the crash. The incident totaled his car and severely injured the Corpus Christi resident.
According to Cole, he broke three neck vertebrae, two in his back, his ribs, his shoulder blade, and his left arm. He is told that he might start recovering in three months, however, doctors say it could take longer. After his brace is removed, he must also rehabilitate.
"Broken neck and broken back it might not be able to do everything we used to do perfectly anymore. And I'm still young, I mean I'm only 21. I hope I heal fully. Fingers crossed that I do," he said. "I should've been paralyzed. They're saying that there's some higher power that's watching me, helping me."
A Horrific Reminder
According to Cole and his family members, a constant reminder of the traumatizing event is displayed outside the TxDOT in Refugio, off Highway 77. He and his family believe the remnants of the truck he owned are being used for TxDOT's;' End the Streak campaign', an effort meant to prevent unsafe driving habits that could lead to death.
Cole's mother-in-law wrote to KRIS 6 News, "Colby did not die. Colby did not do anything to portray death, texting, driving, or anything of that nature. Using his vehicle to support a campaign is ridiculous! To drive by and see this is literally so upsetting as a parent, grandparent, family member, or friend."
"From what I've seen about the campaign it's a good campaign. It's very informative and we want to stop people from texting and driving, drunk driving because that does end lives sadly. But false advertising, saying I died in a car accident either texting and driving drunk driving which I wasn't doing either one." Cole said.
Cole's family is asking TxDOT to remove the truck from the display or provide a disclaimer stating the previous owner of the truck did not die and wasn't driving irresponsibly. The family said TxDOT has not responded to their request.
In a statement provided to KRIS 6 News, TxDOT said it had the owner's permission to display the truck, claiming a wrecker service was the most recent owner. This could be due to Cole relinquishing the title for the car after it was totaled.
Cole claims he owned the truck for three years. He emphasized that he supports the campaign and its intentions, however, believes the recognizability of his truck is not only triggering but trouble for his friends and family who see it because of the campaign's implications.
He said, "To this day I'm still having people finding out about it and realizing it's my truck and they say are you okay, are you alive?"
TxDot's full statement:
"The goal of TxDOT’s End The Streak Texas campaign (@EndTheStreakTX) is to draw attention to the fact that as many as 12 people are dying every day in preventable crashes on Texas roads. This ongoing tragedy is now in its 23rd year.
In an effort to end these crashes and to save lives, TxDOT maintenance offices throughout the Coastal Bend have set up displays featuring crashed vehicles and End The Streak banners as part of the campaign.
TxDOT is urging the public to use these displays as backdrops for photos and selfies. And then to use social media to spread the word about the campaign and tell their stories about the need for drivers to take responsibility for their actions.
The displays are working. People are noticing them and this publicity will hopefully start the conversation about drivers making safe, responsible choices when behind the wheel. The majority of crashes are the result either of distracted driving, driving at an unsafe speed or driving under the influence.
The crashed vehicle in Refugio is on display with the permission of the owner. It was involved in a single-vehicle rollover crash that occurred during daylight hours. Law enforcement cited the driver for unsafe speed."