Texting A&M Student Ordered to Pay $22 Million

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A jury that decided a Texas A&M student was texting while driving and caused a deadly wreck ordered him to pay $22 million in damages.

It was Thanksgiving weekend 2007, 21-year-old Megan Small was driving back to Waco when the Baylor student's parents received a call that changed their lives forever.

"There's something wrong, Megan's in an accident, Megan's dead," said Patricia Small, Megan's mother.

Megan died after being hit head-on by a pickup truck driven by Jason Reed Vestal, a Texas A&M student. Accident investigators say Vestal's truck crossed over into Megan's lane.

"We were heading back up to school after running some errands that morning previously, she was heading back to Waco, we were both heading back up to Waco. She went to Baylor and I went to McLennan Community College," said Laura Gleffe, Megan's best friend.

Gleffe was following Megan in another car and also crashed during the accident. She had to break the news to Megan's family.

"All I remember really is just seeing her car explode, the debris coming on to my car and then just rolling off into, off the road," Gleffe recalled.

"We wanted answers just as soon as possible and we just, we had to sit tight and and have faith," said Kevin Small, Megan's father.

The Smalls hired Attorney Hunter Craft to find out what happened.

Vestal initially said he didn't remember the accident or having a phone in the car but, the Small's attorney took a closer look, subpoenaing cell phone records.

"He had sent or received 15 text messages and placed seven phone calls within that very short period of time up to the accident and in fact he was receiving a text and possbly trying to return that text at the time when he crossed the center line and hit Megan," Hunter Craft, the Small's attorney said.

This week a Robertson County jury found Vestal negligent for $22 million.

The Smalls said it's not about the money, but about making their own message about the dangers of driving distracted.

"Texting and phoning behind the wheel is wrong," Patricia Small said.

It's a message the family hopes all drivers will remember.

The damages will be shared with Small's friend Laura Gleffe, who was driving another car that rolled during the crash.

Small family attorney Hunter Craft says Vestal declared bankruptcy prior to the civil trial in Franklin.

An attorney for Vestal did not have an immediate comment on Wednesday's verdict.