Lisa Duffner loves the outdoors. On March 16, 1999, Lisa had taken her children and the family dog out for a walk. They were walking along the street they live on. Lisa was holding Ryan's hand, her two year old son, and the leash for the dog. Erica and Kyle were close behind. They were almost home. Then tragedy
struck. A van hit the family from behind. Lisa was sent flying 60 feet, Ryan was thrown 30 feet, the little dog, Pepper, died at the scene.
The impact shattered Lisa's left knee, badly damaged her left ankle, and
fractured her right leg. She suffered a blow to her head that put her in a coma and left a gash on her forehead. Her spleen was also damaged.
Ryan laid unconscious. Erica and Kyle were hit by the shoes that flew off
the feet of both Ryan and his mom! They were not seriously hurt.
The van stopped, a 16 year old girl got out and asked if Lisa was OK. She had been dialing a cell phone. She lost control of the van and hit the family. She
didn't call 911, she drove off.
Erica gently picked up Ryan and carried him to his mother, then ran for help. A neighbor, Lane Ovbey, started CPR on Ryan.
Rorry, Ryan's father, had come home from work and was in the shower to get ready to take his family to dinner at a Ryan's Steakhouse. He arrived at the
scene in shocked disbelief.
Ryan was taken to Scottish Rite Children's Medical Center. He underwent surgery the next morning for head injuries. His mom was taken to Gwinnett Medical Center in a coma. She awoke three days later. Rorry had to tell his wife that Ryan wasn't going to make it.
Rorry almost lost Lisa too. She was in the hospital for the next three months having many surgeries to repair her broken bones with metal plates and pins. She did get released for Ryan's funeral. She was in a special wheel chair
under heavy medication and monitored by medical personnel. She never got to hold her baby one last time to say goodbye.
The sixteen year old was charged with felony vehicular homicide, hit-and-run, and a failure to maintain a single lane, She got the maximum sentence
for a juvenile: 90 days in a boot camp, 500 hours of community work, and she is
not allowed to drive until she is 20 years old. Ryan's life was worth much, much more than that!
The girl's parents allowed this sixteen year old to drive their Mercury minivan. They allowed her to have a cell phone. They instructed her to stay away from the boy that made her pregnant. She did some errands, but then the six month pregnant sixteen year old went to her boyfriend's house. She was dialing
her parents to tell them she was on her way home when she hit the Duffners. She drove to a gas station to call her parents.
The police arrived at the gas station, and were met by the girl, her dad,
and a lawyer! The lawyer said she had taken her eyes off the road and "did not
know what she hit - a sign, a dog, a tree?"
Does this girl realize what she has done, taking a baby from a loving
family?? Probably not, she gave birth to her baby and gave it up for adoption.
Her family sold their house and moved to Alabama.
The Duffners have a memorial in their front yard. They don't need it
to remember Ryan, but have it as a tribute to a loved 2 year old. They will never forget him or the reason he died. The Duffners have had to tell the story over and
over to newspaper reporters and in front of TV cameras. They have mounted a campaign against cell phone use while driving. Lisa has been before the Georgia Legislature each year for three years in an attempt to restrict phone use while
driving. She'll work on it for as long as it takes....in memory of Ryan.