Molly Welch looked down at her recorder, going over an interview she’d conducted a few days before, not realizing the life journey that small distraction would send her on.
Welch experienced a traumatic brain injury after her car travelled across the median, hitting a pickup truck head on. She was only one exit away from Auburn.
Welch’s accident sent her into a coma for over a month, and it was only when she was sent home that she woke up. Her doctors knew that sending her home would bring her out of a coma after she spent a month in the hospital.
Her recovery lasted a long time, and Welch said that she still makes strides even today, nine years after the accident.
Welch has dedicated her life to eradicating distracted driving as she believes that her recorder was the cause of the accident. The entire crash was actually recorded on tape.
The accident happened in 2007 during her junior year at Auburn as a journalism major. She had just gotten a job with The Plainsman. She was projected to graduate in 2008, but her recovery pushed it back.
Welch never gave up, though. She persisted and worked with her journalism professors as she was rehabilitated. Taking only two classes a semester at Auburn and a college near her family home in Georgia, Welch worked for her degree every step of the way.
“I could only take two at a time because my memory, processing speed, reading and focusing was affected [by the brain injury],” Welch said.
She sustained a diffuse axonal injury, where the brain sheers or rips.
Welch had to relearn many things that people take for granted in their day-to-day lives. To this day, she notices process, nine years later.
“I experience great joy when I learn that I can do something that I couldn’t do a month ago,” Welch said. “I don’t take life for granted as much.”
In an internship for her degree, she was able to work at the speech therapy office that she was attending. It allowed her to continue her progress with rehabilitation and school.
“I was able to kill two birds with one stone,” Welch said.
From her graduation day, Welch started off in social media, but her father saw a spark in Welch when she was sharing her story with others.
She has been on multiple news outlets speaking to the general public, but Welch spends a lot of time talking at high schools.
“I absolutely love speaking engagements especially with new drivers,” Welch said. “I speak at ghost outs, traffic crash recreations given to high school students.”
Recently, Welch spoke with legislators about raising the penalties for distracted driving in Georgia. The fine is only $150, and there is not a hands-free ban for driving. Welch is working to change that.
Welch loves her work and knows that she is making a difference.
“I’m most proud of all the people I can impact,” she said.
Accidents like Welch’s happen a lot, and that is what she is working to prevent. However, for those who are experiencing what she went through during college, Welch has uplifting advice.
“You have got to keep trying,” Welch said. “I know it gets hard at times, but keep in mind you were accepted into a fabulous school, so keep putting your best foot forward.”