She was left blind in one eye and severely disabled after crashing her car while texting at the wheel.
Now, Liz Marks has revealed the loneliness she feels in the wake of the incident in April 2012.
The 20-year-old was driving her Mazda 3 along a road in St Michaels, Maryland, when she received a text from her mother, Betty. Without thinking, she looked down at her phone to read the message.
Seconds later, she crashed into a tow truck driven by 25-year-old Roy Dixon that was stopped on St Michaels Road waiting to turn left on to Wales Lane. The truck had its left signal turned on.
Miss Marks, then aged 17, was airlifted to the University of Baltimore Shock Trauma Center with serious brain and facial injuries, where she remained in intensive care for nearly a month.
In subsequent weeks, she was forced to undergo a number of surgeries, including an 11-hour procedure on her brain, according to The Star Democrat in Maryland.
Two-and-a-half years on, she remains blind in one eye, has lost her sense of smell, cannot hear properly, is unable to create tears due to damaged tear ducts and cannot fall asleep naturally.
But despite her shocking injuries, Miss Marks revealed one of the most devastating consequences of the crash was the loss of her friends, many of whom couldn’t deal with her situation.
‘The hardest part about my life after the car accident was the fact that I was alone,’ Miss Marks said in a video pleading with drivers not to text and drive.
‘Everyone was away at college, I wasn’t. My friends were there for me at first, but after a while they weren’t. I just remember sitting at home, thinking to myself, “I have no-one”.’
Before the crash, the former student at St. Michaels High School was a ‘popular’ teenager who went to high school parties, sports games, bowling with friends and even did some modelling.
But after the incident, she felt so lonely that she was driven to begging for friends on Facebook.
Wiping away tears, her mother, Betty, said: ‘I looked up on her Facebook page and she said, “can anybody please hang out with me today? I don’t have any friends”.’
She added: ‘My main worry for Liz as a parent before she started driving was the typical teenage things, the drugs, the alcohol, being safe and hanging around the right sort of kids.
I didn’t think Liz was connected to her mobile phone. I would ask her all the time, “Liz, do you text and drive?”, and she said, “No mom, i swear i don’t”.’
She said she was horrified to discover the ‘overwhelming devastation’ her daughter faced ‘over a stupid text’ following the crash, which happened at around 10.50am on Saturday, April 7, 2012.
Miss Marks, who was later transferred to a rehab center, where she celebrated her 18th birthday and received round-the-clock care, admitted she used her phone constantly while at high school.
‘I used my cell phone every second, every minute, every hour. If i didn’t have it, i would freak out because I couldn’t connect with my friends,’ she said. ‘If i didn’t have my cell phone I felt lonely.’
She added: ‘I ignored those warnings about texting and driving because everyone else was doing it, I thought it was okay, I thought I was invincible. But clearly, I was completely wrong.’
Following the crash, police discovered a phone on the floorboards of Miss Marks’s car. The victim later admitted she had looked at her phone after receiving a message from her mother.
Miss Marks and her mother created the video with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It was later posted to the department’s YouTube page.
In the footage, Mrs Marks warned others of the dangers of texting drivers, saying: ‘Don’t text your loved ones when you know they’re driving. It can change their lives forever.’
Her daughter added: ‘If you get a text, don’t look at it,’ Marks said. ‘It’s not worth it.’
The pair have also set up a Facebook page, named ‘Don’t Text N Drive 4 Liz Marks’, which has been ‘liked’ nearly 700 times in the past 12 hours.