Robert Brau died because a young woman made the choice to text and drive

- Robert Brau was a leader, a role model and a friend to all on his squad with the University of Minnesota marching band.

“Robert, in many ways, was the miracle child -- the type of young man all parents hoped to raise,” said band director Timothy Diem. “In a group of 320 young people, it’s not normal for a freshman to show up and be known by everybody. But Robert drew people in like few I have ever known.”

Brau, a Willmar, Minn. native, should have turned 23 last week, and should be preparing for graduation later this spring. Instead, there is only pain and heartbreak for his friends and loved ones because of a distracted driver who crossed the centerline on Highway 12 near Montrose, Minn. in August of 2014.

“There was nowhere else for Robert to go when a car struck him without braking,” Diem said. “I am told he and his motorcycle were thrown 30 feet after he was struck. Robert was dead.”

After the deadly crash, Brau’s band dedicated its performances to their beloved mellophone player and created a scholarship in his honor. Diem made it his mission to help curb distracted driving on Minnesota roads, speaking at a traffic safety conference on Wednesday in Oakdale, Minn.

“Driving distracted is a choice. It is not an accident,” Diem said. “This young lady made the choice and killed Robert Brau.”

Minnesota law enforcement agencies are in the middle of a statewide crackdown on bad habits behind the wheel. The State Patrol has been live-tweeting some of the tickets being handed out, including a 27-year old driver busted for reading texts with right hand, drinking with his left, and steering with his knees.

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