Dad of Byron teen victim warns of distracted driving

Deej Logan

ROCHESTER, Minn. (AP) -- A father in southeastern Minnesota whose daughter was killed in a texting-while-driving crash is spreading the message to teenagers about the dangers of distracted driving.

Matt Logan's 17-year-old daughter, Deej, died four years ago. She was composing a text as she drove away from Byron High School on the first day of her senior year when she slammed into the back of a school bus. She later died at a hospital.

Since his daughter's death in September 2012, Logan has made it his mission to warn others to put down their phones when they drive. He tells the story of Deej's last text in a public service announcement produced by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

Logan spoke at more than 30 schools last academic year. But he said the videos offer a broader base for his message. As of Saturday, Logan's PSA had more than 5,400 views on YouTube.

"We're grateful to Matt for his willingness to share his very painful story in hopes that others will pay attention behind the wheel," Department of Public Safety spokesman Bruce Gordon said.

Gordon said distracted driving is a factor in 20 percent of traffic deaths involving teen drivers in Minnesota. Public safety officials wanted to call attention to the problem as the school year begins, he said.

Logan said retelling the story of his daughter's death is "a doubled-edged sword" for him.

"One edge is ripping the scar open every time, and you're reliving those moments," he said. "Then I get emails and social media messages and notes in the mail from teachers and students, and the impact it's had on them, so the other edge is the reward that it helps."

"We have the ability to make the choice whether we drive distracted or not," Logan said. "We choose distractions. I tell them, `she chose it,' and that's hard for me to say."