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Father of former Auburn football star raises awareness on distracted driving

Philip Lutzenkirchen #43 (Credit: Mike Lutzenkirchen).{ }
Philip Lutzenkirchen #43 (Credit: Mike Lutzenkirchen).
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April is distracted driving awareness month, and law enforcement officers and advocacy foundations are educating people about the true cost of unsafe driving .

FOX28 spoke with Mike Lutzenkirchen, who lost his son, Philip, a former Auburn football player, to distracted and impaired driving.

“Philip lived an incredible life for 23 years and 29 days, taken off this earth way too early," Lutzenkirchen said.

On June 29, 2014, Lutzenkirchen got a call that no parent ever wants to hear.

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“He just simply said, ‘Mr. Lutzenkirchen, there was a crash last night and Philip is dead. That’s how we learned of my son passing away," Lutzenkirchen said.

Now, he shares his story to help prevent people of all ages from distracted driving.

The Bluffton Police Department partners with the Lutzie 43 foundation, where Mike is the executive director, to bring awareness to the community and local high schoolers who may be tempted to text and drive or blast music with friends.

“There is not a text message or a phone call worth your life. There is not a radio song that’s going to be played on the radio that’s worth your life," Chief Joe Babkiewicz said,

In Bluffton alone, there were 1400 motor vehicle accidents last year.

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Some of those account for people who left home in the morning and never returned.

“Driving is the most dangerous thing that you do on a daily basis, so you have to take that initiative to say ‘I’m going to keep myself safe as well as everyone else by doing what I’m supposed to do when I am operating a motor vehicle," Lance Cpl. Nick Pye with the S.C. Highway Patrol said.

While you can’t control what other people do on the road, Pye said you can create driving conditions for yourself that make it a safe environment for you and any passengers.

Lutzenkirchen will continue to spread his message, so that people truly understand how a second can change, or end, your life.

“I think God’s plan is for us to use his life to hopefully protect others from falling to the same fate he fell to, putting a family like ours in the grief that we experienced," Lutzenkirchen said.

He hopes people will sign the Lutzie 43 pledge to not drive impaired, distracted or unsafe.

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Bluffton Police is partnering with Beaufort County Schools, requiring that students awarded a school parking pass must sign the Lutzie 43 pledge.

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