Texas teen's tragedy inspires father's push for parking safety

A Texas father is trying to change the laws and store policies regarding parking in retail environments.

Around noon on July 7, 18-year-old Jessica Bunch was standing in front of a CVS store in Canton when a 79-year-old woman accidentally stepped on the gas instead of the brake, jumped the curb at a handicapped parking spot, and rammed into her.

Bunch was immediately airlifted to Trinity Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler for emergency treatment.

She suffered two punctured lungs, seven broken ribs, seven pelvis fractures, a broken left ankle, internal bleeding, multiple surgeries, and had to have her appendix, gallbladder and a section of her bowel system removed.

Bunch dreamed of becoming a United States Marine. She was scheduled to report to boot camp at the USMC Parris Island, S.C. facility in September.

Now, Bunch simply wants to be whole again.

But for Don Bunch, Jessica’s father, he is on a mission to enact new parking laws.

“I love her more than I love life,” said Don. “If I could take her place, I would do it in a heartbeat.”

He wants retailers to place sturdy barriers between any general or handicapped parking spots that are in close proximity to high-pedestrian areas.

Bunch has at least one more surgery scheduled and a long road to recovery. Her father has set up a GiveForward fundraiser page to help pay for her medical bills, which have amounted to more than $400,000.

As for the 79-year-old driver of the SUV, Canton police say she stepped on the gas instead of the brake, ruling the crash an accident.

Don says police told him if Jessica was killed, the driver would have been charged with vehicular manslaughter.

"If you kill someone, then you can be held liable, but you can mangle them up bad as you like and no charges be filed,” said Don. “I don't understand that."