Special Report: Austin's Warning

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

A college soccer player in the prime of his life nearly lost everything - over a text message.

It was the early morning of December 4, 2009. Nineteen-year-old Austin Breitenstein was driving on I-235 when he checked a text from his ex-girlfriend. That's when he crashed his pickup.

At the time, Austin was a college soccer player at Friends University and an active teenager with a spunky personality - with big dreams for the future. But Austin received traumatic brain injuries in the crash.

"He went to infancy stage," said Julie Breitenstein, Austin's mother. "He had to learn how to walk, learn how to eat and learn how to drink from a straw."

It's been a long three and a half years for Austin and his mother, with days full of physical therapy, speech and occupational therapy. And the difficult journey is far from over, but the Breitensteins are just thankful they get a second chance.

With that second chance, Julie promises to do whatever she can to prevent other families from feeling this same pain.

"All over the text," Julie said. "These kids have to understand that texting and driving can change their lives forever."

Julie said it comes down to making the right choice, and putting your phone down while you drive.

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