Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa teen who crashed while texting is grounded

TAMPA — Katelyn Blaylock may be 18 but her mother says she's grounded indefinitely.

"It will be a while," Susan Blaylock said Friday.

And there will be no new car, the mother said.

On Wednesday, Katelyn slammed into a police car and became the latest cautionary tale of what happens when teenagers text message while driving.

The incident brought a careless-driving citation and $3,000 in vehicle damage.

But the family didn't expect the widespread news coverage.

"It's definitely blown way out of proportion," Susan Blaylock said. "There's no way it should be on every news station and every radio station in the morning."

Her daughter is a good kid, she said. She works in the Winn-Dixie bakery after school. She graduates June 1 and plans to go to cosmetology school.

"She's a typical teenager, an All-American teenager, a B student," Susan Blaylock said. "She was involved in sports when she was younger. She's not a bad kid. Blonde hair and brown eyes. Just a normal kid. She doesn't have wild, crazy hair. The kids she hangs out with are normal people."

On Wednesday morning, Katelyn Blaylock skipped a class at Freedom High School and drove to Taco Bell along with two of her friends, she said in an interview with the St. Petersburg Times.

While driving, she received a text message from her boyfriend asking her to pick up some food, she said. She got another message from a friend asking when she was headed back to campus.

She texted as she drove, she said.

She didn't see a red light at the intersection of Bruce B. Downs and Palm Springs boulevards or a Tampa police car stopped at the light.

Katelyn was glancing at her phone to look up the time when she barreled into the patrol car, she said.

The air bags in her 1999 Chrysler Sebring inflated, burning Katelyn's elbow and the chin of her front seat passenger, Alexis Suda, 18. Otherwise, no one, including the police officer, was hurt.

It was a tough lesson for Katelyn. It was just the second time she had skipped school, she said.

"I'm not going to text and drive any more," she said Friday.

Police took the third student in the car, Ashton Longworth, 17, back to school. Susan Blaylock drove Alexis and Katelyn to Freedom.

"My feeling is had she been in school, she wouldn't have hit the car in the first place," Susan Blaylock said. "I'm more mad that she skipped school to do this."

"I am not one of those parents who allow her kids to skip," she said. "I do not condone it."

But at the same time, she defended her daughter and family from insensitive comments anonymously left on news Web sites.

"What these people put on these Web sites is cruel because they don't know me. It is far from whatever these people say. I am not making excuses for my child," she said. "I want people to understand she's not the first kid to get in a wreck because she was texting.

"I'm not making an excuse for her at all, but unfortunately she won't be the last. We're all incredibly blessed that no one was hurt. We're all lucky it wasn't a carload of kids or a pedestrian walking across the road."

Justin George can be reached at (813) 226-3368 or [email protected]

Tampa teen who crashed while texting is grounded 05/22/09 [Last modified: Monday, May 25, 2009 5:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Astros rout Yankees to force Game 7 of AL Championship Series


    HOUSTON — Justin Verlander pitched seven shutout innings to outduel Luis Severino for the second time, and the Astros bats came alive in their return home as Houston routed the Yankees 7-1 Friday night and forced a decisive Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

    The Astros’ Brian McCann, who has struggled during the ALCS, breaks a scoreless tie with an RBI double during the fifth inning off Yankees starter Luis Severino.
  2. Review: Faith Hill and Tim McGraw shower love, star power on Tampa's Amalie Arena


    Near the end of their potent new duet Break First, Tim McGraw stopped singing, and let Faith Hill's powerhouse voice take over.

    Faith Hill and Tim McGraw performed at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Oct. 20, 2017.
  3. Senate to take up AUMF debate as Trump defends reaction to Niger attack


    WASHINGTON — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is taking up a long-awaited debate about authorizing military force against the Islamic State as President Trump comes under unprecedented public scrutiny for his treatment of dead soldiers' families, following an ambush on troops helping to fight Islamic …

  4. In fear and vigilance, a Tampa neighborhood holds its breath


    TAMPA — There was a time, not long ago, when Wayne Capaz would go for a stroll at night and Christina Rodriguez would shop whenever she wanted. Michael Fuller would go to his night job as a line cook, not too worried about his wife at home.

    More than 50 people gathered and walked in the Southeast Seminole Heights community Friday to pay respects to the victims of three shootings. The crowd took a moment of silence at the corner of 11th Street and East New Orleans where Monica Hoffa was found dead. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL  |  Times]
  5. Fennelly: What's not to like about Lightning's start?

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — No one is engraving the Stanley Cup. No one has begun stuffing the league MVP ballot box for Nikita Kucherov.

    The Lightning, with a win tonight, would match the best start in franchise history, 7-1-1 in the 2003-04 Cup season.