Put the phone down and buckle up: Hampton man shares his story of distracted driving

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Posted at 11:29 AM, Apr 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-27 18:33:39-04

HAMPTON, Va. – A Hampton man is back in college after a horrific car accident, and he wants to share his story of distracted driving to prevent others from making the same mistake.

Bartley King was a student at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2007. He admits to texting and driving when he says he slammed his truck into a tree. King said he was not wearing a seatbelt.

He spent close to a month in a coma.

"Because I was stupid behind the wheel, I made those two people cry their eyes out 'til they had no more tears," described King as he talked about his parents who have been incredibly supportive in his recovery.

King told News 3 that he sustained a brain injury and still has damage to the left side of his body. The former athlete says he hits the gym and has worked tirelessly at recovering - both mentally and physically. He wants to be an inspiration to others struggling after an injury or health condition.

The accident survivor has shared his story before the pandemic, but with restrictions relaxing now and with end-of-the-school-year celebrations just ahead, he is working with local school districts to tell his story in person to young drivers. He hopes that it will convince others to pay attention at the wheel and buckle up.

"Seatbelts are very important, I promise you," said King. "Doctors told my family while I was in a coma, they said, 'If he was wearing a seatbelt, he might have walked away.'"

He said he's grateful that he can walk and doesn't need a wheelchair, but said he can no longer drive.

In the meantime, the Hampton native says he's working to finish his degree in marketing through VCU.

Related: Breaking habit of holding phone while driving with Virginia's new hands-free law; local counselor weighs in