Mother works to prevent distracted driving - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Mother works to prevent distracted driving

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An area mother is speaking out after she and her daughters were hit by a distracted driver near Marion. Two of her four daughters died in that November crash.

Keith Furne, 35, is charged with homicide by vehicle after authorities say he was texting when he rear-ended their car.

Mother, Jenny Perez, is hoping her story will help prevent this from happening to anyone else. Perez isquestioning how she and two of her daughters made it out alive.

"They (authorities) believe that he was texting while driving," said Perez. "He was going 60 miles per hour and he never hit the brakes."

Sisters, Selena Apodaca,16, and Bella Severson, 13 both died in the crash.

"I remember a voice telling me that Elysia had been airlifted to the University of Iowa Hospital and that me and Mia were gonna go as well," said Perez. "But Selena and Bella didn't make it."

Elysia, 14, and 4-year-old Mia, along with their mother, survived.

"I have no idea how I am here," said Elysia. "I personally think that when Selena and Bella died all of their energy went into me to save me."

Elysia had multiple surgeries and is now paralyzed on the right side.

"I was internally decapitated so I had a one percent chance of living," said Elysia. "No one thought I was gonna live...I proved them wrong."

Since the crash, Perez has be fighting along with some of Selena's friends to prevent something like this from happening again.

"I am glad we survived," said Elysia. "It's sad that they didn't, but now it's our turn to show the world how dangerous it is."

A single text took two innocent lives.

"Unfortunately no matter what happens, my kids are still going to be gone," said Perez. "All of our lives will never be the a way we all died that day."

Perez is working with Selena's friends to put up posters in Linn-Mar High School to prevent students from using their phones while driving.

One poster the group created is a collage of Snapchat's that high school students took while driving. The poster reads, "Is it worth it?"

To find out how to get involved with their group, STOP, email them at

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