EDINA, Minn. -- When Dan Phillips took the stage Monday evening at Edina High School, he did so as part of a father-daughter team.
A few feet to his left stood a large portrait of Kelly Phillips, a Minnetonka High School senior, honor student and hockey player, killed three years ago in a crash caused by distracted driving.
"My wife got off the phone and said 'Kelly has been involved in an accident,'" her father recalled about September 21st, 2007, the worst night of his life.
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Phillip's 17-year-old daughter was thrown from the backseat of a Toyota convertible as in rolled over into a farm field in Carver County.
A state patrol investigation determined Kelly's seatbelt was inoperable and that the car's driver, 17-year-old Kylie Grayden, was fiddling with her iPod when her car left the road at a slight bend in the highway. The rollover killed Kylie as well, while critically injuring her cousin who was riding in the front passenger seat.
"If you're paying attention there's no way you lose control there," said Dan Phillips. "The only way you lose control is if you're distracted."
Phillips began speaking to groups last year, as a way to help make sense of his daughter's death and to "help others avoid that pain."
Despite advance publicity, the crowd was sparse Monday night. Educators like Edina principal Bruce Locklear know much work remains. "As I stand and watch students leave our parking lot, probably seven in ten are on the cell phone within two minutes of getting in the car and driving out of the parking lot."
Phillips believes attitudes can be altered. "We finally got serious about drunk driving. I think the message has to be that the consequences can be just as severe. I mean death."
It's a message a father and daughter will continue spreading together.
"She only lived 17 years, but she did, and still is, impacting many lives," said Phillips.
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