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Jerry Davich: Andre Cash: Poster child for the wrong reason?

Andre Cash | Provided photo~Sun-Times Media

Andre Cash | Provided photo~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: August 20, 2013 11:08PM



Andre Cash could have been the poster child for being a warm, loving, and humorous friend.

“I knew Andre for a little over three years and, in that time, he was the best, most dependable friend a person could ask for,” said David Milanec of Griffith.

“He was so loved by so many,” added Jade Greenberg of Hammond. “He gave of himself much more than he ever took, and he always had a smile and a song.”

Unfortunately, the 24-year-old Crown Point man may be the poster child for the potentially deadly deed of driving while texting.

Last Wednesday morning, Cash was returning to Griffith from taking a friend’s 10-year-old daughter to South Haven Christian School when he veered into oncoming traffic. The head-on crash took place on U.S. 6 in Hobart after Cash’s Buick suddenly drifted into the eastbound lanes. His car hit an SUV, causing serious injuries to its driver, a 51-year-old woman. A (restrained) toddler in her car suffered minor injuries, police say.

Cash — who loved music, loved to eat, and loved to have a good time — died in the crash.

“Andre was on his way back to my house from driving my daughter to school,” Milanec told me. “He was doing it as a favor to me because I had a test I had to study for.”

Hobart police told me they can’t confirm that Cash was texting while driving, though it certainly was checked into.

“It’s one of the first things we look into these days,” said Hobart police Detective Dave Evans, noting that a toxicology report and coroner’s ruling are still pending.

Neither drugs nor alcohol appeared to be a factor in the crash, police said.

“He never did any drugs in his life, and he rarely, if ever, drank alcohol,” Milanec said.

Cash’s friends, however, believe if Cash wasn’t texting at the moment his car veered off, he was most likely checking an earlier text.

“We had discussed several times the importance of not texting while driving,” Milanec said. “But the best my wife or I ever were able to get him to promise us was that he would not do it with our daughters in the car. And he was a man of his word, regardless of what that meant he had to do.”

Meaning that he possibly waited until after he dropped off the couple’s daughter that morning to check his texts or calls on his cell phone.

His latest incoming text arrived at 8:29 a.m., I’m told, about 10 minutes before the crash, but his friends have a theory.

“I watched him drive several times and he may have noticed (the text) a few minutes later, started to respond, took his eyes off the road, and ended up in the oncoming lane,” Milanec said.

Another text, another death

How many times have we already heard similarly deadly stories involving texting while driving? How many times have they stopped motorists from doing it? Not often enough, I’m guessing.

I, too, have sent texts while driving, though I have rationalized it by citing my smart phone’s audio-texting feature. I speak into it like a phone call and it sends a text.

Is it wrong? Certainly. Is it dangerous? Probably. Is it something I’ll continue to do? To be honest, I’m not sure. But you can bet I’ll be thinking about Andre Curtis Cash the next time I consider it. I hope you do, too.

“Andre was a wonderful man who would give you the shirt off his back, even if he didn’t own a shirt,” Milanec said.

Cash, a former Purdue University Calumet student, had joined the U.S. Army and he was set for boot camp in January. He could have left earlier, but he wanted to wait for one very important reason.

“He was to be in my wedding in December,” Milanec said.

“He intended to use opportunities through the Army to finish college,” said Greenberg, who was one of Cash’s educators at PUC. “Andre had a world of potential.”

“In our circle of friends — most of whom considered him a brother — our hearts are breaking,” she added.

On Thursday night, his friends held a memorial for him at PUC.

“The room was packed, and people came from out of state,” Milanec said.

Funeral arrangements are pending, but the service should be paid for by the U.S. Army since Cash had already signed up for his service to Uncle Sam, his friends say.

Six years ago, in November 2006, Cash wrote a poem titled “Real Talk” including these hopeful lines.

“The most powerful words I’ve ever read: Let there be light! So please be a light, in these dark times, keep hope alive. Especially for the people who have to strive to survive.

“At this point in time, I’m startin’ to believe the world is losin’ its mind. But read these words and tap into mine.”

When I asked Milanec what Cash’s death should mean to those who were not able to tap into his mind, or his heart, he didn’t hesitate.

“Don’t text and drive,” he replied immediately. “Please don’t text and drive.”

Find more of Jerry’s writings on Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, and jerrydavich.wordpress.com.



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