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Driver in Ryan Franklin Tragedy Describes What it’s Like to Be the Person Who Takes a Life

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It is a tragedy to lose a family member for any reason. But, what about the driver who is responsible for taking a life in a distracted driving tragedy? This is the story of one Magic Valley woman who knows all too well the pain of being that person."In a second…it was just a second. My life changed and his family’s life changed. My family’s life changed. Anyone who’s lives were involved with us changed. Forever. It’s changed everything"

Hollie Winnett was driving on 2900 North the morning of May 18, 2016. It was a morning like any other for her and her family. Her kids were preparing for their last day of school. Little did she know that she was about to change the life of her family and Ryan Franklin’s forever.

What was your family’s life like before the accident?

Hollie: “It wasn’t all roses or anything, but it wasn’t bad. We had just moved into a new house. We hadn’t even unpacked our boxes yet. My living room was full of boxes. My dad had passed away a year before that and I had moved out to Hollister from Eden to be closer with my mom.”

What do you remember about the morning of May 18, 2016?

Hollie: “It was my kids last day of school …in Eden and they wanted to attend their last day of school. We got up early that morning. Got ready to go. Took that hour-long drive. We stopped at the little country store…Rock Creek Country Store. We stopped there and got some things my daughter needed and we went on our way.”

What happened next is unclear according to Hollie. She was not aware of feeling drowsy or ill.

Hollie: “Everything was good. I didn’t feel like I was tired or anything abnormal. I dropped them off and go back through Hansen and…the last thing I can really remember is crossing the railroad tracks in Hansen. There’s like 7 miles I don’t remember driving. I just remember hearing a sound that woke me up…a startling sound that woke me up…woke me up and I slammed on the brakes and jumped out of my car…didn’t put it in park…I looked around and didn’t see anything. I saw a piece of tire on the road and I look back and my car is driving away, so I ran and jumped in my car and got it back on the road and called my husband.”

Hollie knew she had hit something, but didn’t realize at the time what (or who) it was. Her husband met her several miles down the road. They both agreed that they needed to go back to the accident scene and figure out what had happened. When they arrived at the point of impact, she realized something terrible had happened.

Hollie: “When we got there, I could see they were giving someone CPR and I freaked out. I was like ‘Oh my God, I hit a man’. The cops weren’t there yet. They were doing CPR and nobody told me he was already dead. Nobody told me that until later. I didn’t know. I felt like I was just in a dream and I wanted to wake up. Knowing that I’m not gonna wake up cause I’m not dreaming, you know?”

Since the accident, Hollie’s family has dealt with the bullying of her kids at school and financial difficulties and the understanding that her actions have changed Ryan Franklin’s family forever.

What would you say to something that thinks this type of tragedy only happens to other people?

Hollie: “That they’re wrong. It can happen to you. It can happen to anybody. I never thought in a million years that it would happen, but it did. In a second…it was just a second. My life changed and his family’s life changed. My family’s life changed. Anyone who’s lives were involved with us changed. Forever. It’s changed everything.”

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