Comments on "A Long Drive"

by CHP Officer Phil Konstantin

After Robyn's death, I created a web site to tell others what happened to Robyn. This was in hope others could avoid her fate. Since then, I have received many kind and moving comments. Below, I have posted some of those comments. Only the initials of the writer are listed.

I just recently recieved a computer and gained access to AOL. While doing research for a novel I'm writing, I stumbled across your web site. I was saddened to learn of your loss and wish to send my condolences. As a third shift employee, I completely understand the dangers fo driving while fatigued. As a mother of two young children, reading your article really struck a chord with me. I now make an extra effort to put down whatever I am doing and get that extra couple of hours of sleep. No amount of writing or reading, dishes or sweeping, is a good enough excuse for my children to lose their mother, or my husband to lose his wife. Thank you so much for being able to see past your grief, and use your wife's death as a learning experience for us all. Again, my condolences on your loss. K.M.
Phil, It is so very strange how I came across your site but I am glad I did. Just last night I drove home from a Pow-Wow tired and sleepy. Just before driving home I had a few beers with dinner and didn't think a couple beers would have any affect on me. While driving home I caught myself falling asleep more than once and now that I have read your sad story I will never drink and drive again. Also I will never drive tired or fatigued. Thankyou for your time making this site possible and have fun touring the Mayan ruins. MG
After reading your article I was very touched. I've driven that stretch of Texas highway and your right it can get boring. But I'm a photographer and I always find something to photograph. I've traveled a lot this summer and learned when you get over tired it's time to turn in for the night. I've been darn lucky as a matter of fact. I've had a deer dash in front of the car and had a blow out twice driving 70mph. These are things I don't want to happen again. And after you article getting out walking around doesn't sound so bad when it could be so much worse. My prays are with you and I do believe our loved ones can communicate from beyond. My grandmother was Cherokee Indian and told me things I never understood. But I do now and will always be thankful for having her. Sincerely,ALN.
Dear Phil I am sorry for the loss of Robyn, I too lost my father in 1992 as he fell asleep on a long drive across Europe. He died instantly (I hope) from horrific injuries. I admire your use of this tragedy to help stop others dying needlessly. Take care of yourself. N.
Thank you for sharing Robyn's story. I am sorry for your loss. In the past week I have voluntarily taken myself off the road due to chronic problems falling asleep behind the wheel. A week ago this past Sunday, while driving with my 10 year old daughter, I nearly ran off interstate 495 in Massachussetts and almost drove another car off as well. I was extremely tired that day and had taken Meg with me to help keep me awake while I drove two hours to work at a homeshooling convention as part of my business.

I had begun having one of my older children ride on long distances with me in the past year in order to help me stay awake. I did not want to believe I was having a problem....I was in denial. Each time I would have trouble staying awake while driving, and there were many times, I would think, "oh you're just over doing it, you're just tired", but it was pride. I didn't want to think I was not able to do something so ordinary. I am having a sleep study done tomorrow night in order to determine if I have sleep apnea that is causing me to be excessiviely tired all the time, but becomes over whelming when I get behind the wheel.

As a mother of 4 and a foster mother to two, I will never risk the lives of one of my precious children or another on the rode again by driving when I am sleepy and I will not drive until I discover the problem that I have been hiding from and resolve it. It is very hard to admit when you are not able to function at full speed all the time. I was horror stricken at the thought of possibly hitting the other car that ended up nearly in the breakdown lane trying to avoid my drifting car, as I was headed for a bank of trees at 8 5miles an hour. Meg yelled and blessedly I did not jerk the wheel when I awoke. We were able to correct the drift and no one was hurt or injured. I will not ever do this again. I am thankful for the chance to stay off the road. My child, the people in the other car and I could have died last week, because of my pride.

Thank you for sharing Robyn's story. It hit me very hard. Thank you for the added wake up call. G.
My sixteen year old daughter completed her driving school and received her diploma this date. Monday she goes to the DPS to get her driver's license.

I encouraged her to read your excellent web site, and I cannot begin to convey to you the impact the story and the photos had on her. We thank you for your dedication and work, and especially for opening the eyes of a young driver. One day this just might save her life.

I appreciate the work you put into your web site. I am very sorry to hear about the passing of your wife. Grief is a terrible thing. We are lucky to have loved ones in our life. But the amount of time we have with them is never assured. Take it slow, and know that you are loved even now.
I am not sure what made me search for Robyn today, but I came upon your site. I was friends with Robyn when she lived in Dauphin Island Alabama. I remember sitting on her porch over the beach and listening to Woodstock music.

I am glad to learn she was able to be near the whales that she loved so much as I lost touch with her as I moved back to Ohio. I am so sorry to learn she is not with us anymore - her free spirit impacted my life and she was there for me during a tough time in my life -

My deepest sympathy for your loss,
Dear Phil, I just read the story you wrote about your wife, and it broke my heart. I hope that you are doing well. I am a trucker and I guess it really hit because of the many, many, accidents I have seen. Accidents that didn't have to happen. I have seen too many 4 wheelers and truckers alike that needed to be off the road. If I see a trucker that is likely to be sleepy, I will harass him on the CB until he gets more alert. If there is a truck stop nearby I will often offer to buy him a cup to "make up" for being so rude on the CB! It usually works. Once he gets out of the truck, he actually realizes how tired he is! Unfortunately, most cars do not have a CB. So it is hard to get their attention. Any means attempted just makes them crazy. So, I usually call out for a patrolman on the CB. I know they monitor it but seldom answer it! But I give all the info I can and hope for the best. No, I am not guilty of driving drowsy. I started driving about 5 1/2 years ago, and I take my job and responsibility very seriously. I went through several truck firms until I found one that understood that even if it meant losing an account I would NOT jeopardize mine, or anyone's life to get the load there on time. My dispatcher knows me and if I say I can, I do, and if I say I can't, I won't. And I still get the miles I need to make a living. Amazing! Well, I didn't mean for this to get so long. I just want you to know that your story touched my heart. And that out there on the road there is one driver who appreciates the CHP and the job you have to do. I know that when a trucker tells of a CHP being "rude" while writing a ticket for speeding, that the officer very well may have just come off a needless accident where speed was a factor and lives lost or changed forever. Be safe out there. God bless and God speed. L.S.
I am deeply touched and truly felt the hair raise on the back of my neck as I read of Robyn's death.
I have driven thousands of miles from florida to Pine Ridge too many times to count......and I prefer to drive alone. My close call came when i used the cruise control thinking it would give better gas mileage. Pretty soon I found myself kicked back, listening to some tunes and feeling very relaxed, reflecting on the events within/without family and friends on Pine Ridge, praying for health and help for all that live on Mother Earth, & thanking Mother Earth for sustaining life even as she is being ravaged. Eventually I was lulled into a dream like state, the thump thump thump sound of the tires on the interstate was hypnotic. Creator yanked me up, wide awake as i was leaving the road and headed into a forest of beautiful trees on I-65. I pulled off at the next rest area, shaking in horror and shame that I could have killed someone, and how my "cruising comfort onboard goodies" and stupidity would be unbearable. I would have gone on my Spirit Journey wailing with grief had i injured or killed innocent persons. Since that lesson I drive and no matter what I stop to rest and am off the road by nightfall. For whatever reason Creator needed for Robyn to come Home. At least that's my humble opinion. The method by which she left is a hard one...but she returned to let you know "things are more than good" and to show and share with you to somehow help you to be have become a Champion of education and information.
It is my belief that Robyn's Spirit is alive and well and she's really busy in good ways. So are you. I've never spoken of any of my personal driving experiences until now........just felt inspired by your words and wanted to share. Thank you. B.M.
My name is J.Y. and I am the affiliate relations manager for the program you applied for about a week ago. Rarely do I get the opportunity to write a personalized letter to any of our affiliates, but after visiting your site, I felt I should. Not only did I find your site to be informative and interesting, but it was the article you wrote about your wife that impacted me the most. Although I cannot begin to understand your loss, you have my deepest sympathies. I look forward to visiting your site in the future, and I wish you the best.
My name is L.C. and I live in Perth Western Australia. I was looking at ur page when i came across the link about the article about ur wife's tragic death.I was in tears when i read the article and i didnt even attempt to look at the photos.

This is only a brief email but I would just like to say that I feel for you.Im very sorry to hear about the terrible passing of ur lovely wife.
I just read your story and it is very touching. I'm very sorry for your loss. I can't even begin to imagine how you feel.

I'm a safety director for a small trucking company that runs all over the US and BC. I can't stress enough to my guys the importance of sleep. And while everyone thinks, "I know my body, I'll be fine, I know my limits" that isn't always the truth. They don't always pay attention to those limits. And for our guys, it's not only dangerous for them to be sleepy, but to be on the road with other sleepy drivers - big and small. Truck drivers have regulations they must follow regarding their hours, but other drivers don't. And whenever there is an accident, it doesn't matter whose "fault" it is, no one wins. And I'm finding it difficult to blame "truck drivers" or "young drivers" or "older driver" or "a hectic schedule" or whatever… You only get one shot at life unless you are exceptionally lucky. Young drivers learn by watching others - not just their parents. Older drivers have a problem accepting the fact that their bodies aren't what they used to be. Everyone in between "has such a hectic schedule". None of that makes it any safer. I think that while it's a tragedy what happened to your wife, you are using it to help educate others and she would be very proud of you for doing that. Being in a safety profession, you are no doubt more aware of these factors than the general public. We all need to work together to educate everyone to be safer. Life is too precious to gamble with.

I would like to use your story and pictures at a safety meeting if that is ok with you. I have numerous training videos, but they don't "hit home" like a story that actually has "real" faces attached to it. I will also be attaching a link to your site when I have time to update ours. Hopefully, we can help others realize the importance of this very serious subject.

Again, I am terribly sorry for your loss and I hope that you realize that even though it's not been easy, you have a guardian angel watching over you, and if your story helps prevent even one person from driving drowsy, you have contributed greatly. D.P.
I was browsing the internet in seek of Native American pictures when I suddenly came across your story on your wife horrible tragic accident. I was moved by your writing and brought back memories of my traveling from Calif. to Indiana with my son a couple yrs ago. Yes, we too were anxious to get so many miles in so many days, but one hitch...I have asthma and knew I had to I read hosp. signs along the way. I pushed the limit, and when I stopped I was even more tired. I found out that even a ten minute break and stretch will help too. I am saddened that Robyn lost her life so tragically. My heart goes out to you. Thanx for sharing your story. I will travel again, as I love to travel too, and will take the extra time to stop sooner. C.
I very much appreciate your sharing your story of Robin. Falling asleep at the wheel is so very scarey....I have done so more than once when I use to work nights.....Once, I had an accident that totalled my car and could have by all rights been fatal...I came out of it unharmed but it was not due to my own strength....Am so glad to see this story being shared....If I can help pass the word, will do so...will be only to glad to share my own story if anyone is interested in hearing it....You know, night nurses and night shift people run a particular risk with this....blessings for reaching out in love and sharing this with so many....I.
Tears are about to go over the edge. I thank you for your courage, your elegance and your generosity. Tragedy has not visited us and to help keep it away, I will forward this to our 16 year old daughter who is equipped with her license, OnStar, a head on her shoulders and a very reliable car. I am newly aware that if sufficiently fatigued, these wonderful tools for safe driving will become worthless. Your gift to strangers will probably save lives. S.
I was looking at Native American web sites and happened upon the tragic story of your wife. I used to work at Browning MT Blackfeet Agency hospital as an ER nurse. I now live in El Paso TX and was an ER nurse here until 3 years ago. I was raised in the area in which your wife died. It's a horribly boring drive I have made many times. The area east of there is also. It's hard to find a safe place to pull over and rest. Drug smugglers travelling through the desert due south cross the area frequently. No emergency phones. I have been there [sleepy] and lulled further by the road.

As an ER nurse, and former EMT ambulance attendant before that, I have been involved in numerous road hypnosis tragedies. My condolences to you on what will probably always be a recent event and hope the Great Spirit gives strength to your soul. I hope your magazine article helps someone to avoid the same heartache. God bless you for having the strength to write about it. B.B.El Paso TX
I am sorry to read about your wife. I too have a story: My sister and I were driving to Knoxville, TN. My sister fell asleep just north of Huntsville Alabama. The car started veering off to the right, she over compensated, the car began a 360 degree turn as we went over a ditch towards the on coming traffic, then BAM! the passenger side was hit by an on coming car. The car came to a complete stop on the shoulder on the opposite side of the road, facing the opposite way we were traveling. I didn't believe it: I was in the passenger side and I checked to see if my sister was OK then I went to the other car to see if they were OK. Nobody was killed. S.L.
I stumbled onto your magazine article about Robyn's death while searching for current event Native American articles for my 12 year old. I am so sorry about her death. Something inside of me really felt sorrow for someone I never met. She must have been a beautiful & courageous person. I am sure her work with the whales will be sadly missed. I will also share the article with all of my loved one's so that they will have the forthought to pull over when tired. Thank you. L.S.
I have only recently subscribed to your newsletter. While reviewing the one I received in December I came across your article, if you will, regarding the tragic loss of your wife. I offer my sincerest condolences. I would also like to tell you that it has touched my heart; I used to drive more than 20 miles one way on the interstate where I live on only a few hours sleep. There have been many times I have 'awaken' to find myself almost part of someone's bumper. Your article has awaken my awareness of how foolish this can be in terms of my safety, and the safety of my fellow commuters. I don't expect you to be sympathetic with me since I have been wrong, and foolish. Thanks for waking me up Phil. May you find the peace you seek during this adjustment in your life. M.W.S.
I had come across your web-page via the Long Island newsday's web-sighting section and made it a point to add the link to my tribute fan-site to American Indian actor Rodney A. Grant. I just added the link this evening and went to check it to make sure I added it correctly and thus I decided to stop off and read about your wife's accident. Firstly, my condolences to you and the family. It was a very sad touching article but a very important one for folks to read and keep in mind. There are a lot of folks who do a lot of traveling and push themselves too far. I had a drive from Daytona to Miami this summer and the heat alone kept making me doze off at the wheel and I would end up pulling over or at the rest stops just to get some air or water. May your wife rest in peace. R.
I received in email to read the long ride. For some strange reason I seemed drawn to it. Usually am to discourage to even try to read messages with small print, those 40 something eyes are well not what they used to be. To make this a shorter story, I have been through some very rough times in a 22 year old marriage. Then the death of parents only months apart. I have been treated fo depression and finally come up with ADD. Through all this I have lost weight, lost some friends, lost some more weigh and on and on. As part of the picture I don't sleep well, sometimes not at all. When I got to the part" For want of enought sleep" it sent chills through me. My driving because of ADD is bad enough, but I know I am not functioning at normal compacity. My hope is to turn things back to "normal" and not leave such an impact. Thanks for your touching story, although in a round about way---you triggered something........Good luck and my highest hopes for you! C.
I read this page when you first posted it on the Internet but for you to send it out this particular time is interesting to me. I just returned from a long distance trip. Out of 7 days, 5 were spent on the road, driving. I covered 3,133 miles and the trip encompassed 10 states. There were times as I drove in the early afternoon when I felt myself getting very sleepy on the long, boring roads through Kansas.

I also had on the cruise control. The more I tried to fight the sleepy feeling, the quicker it seemed to return. Shaking my head, slapping my cheeks, shifting in my seat....nothing helped like stopping and getting out to walk around for a while.

Although I was in a bit of a hurry to return home, I knew stopping for a few minutes wouldn't take too much time. Earlier in the summer, I'd dozed off while driving through east Texas at about 85 miles an hour. It was only a second....but when I awoke, I was about to plow into the rear-end of a semi!! That really scared me and forced me to realize I'm not "super-human" and like it or not, I needed to stop.

I cried when I first read your story. My first husband was killed in a car wreck, although under slightly different circumstances. In the wee hours of the morning, he was coming home under the influence of drugs and alcohol and with the added danger of having no brakes. At an intersection that forms a "T", he couldn't stop and plowed into a mobile home that was being set up at a display park. He thought he was invincible.....but he didn't survive this accident. That was in 1980.

Thank you for sharing your story!!!! I know I've thought about it as I've been driving and feeling the sleepiness coming on. Your story (the sharing of it) has probably saved more than a few lives. Thank you for caring enough to share your pain and the story of your wife.

with love, D.
Just surfing and reseaching, I ran across your story about your wifes last journey on this sweet earth of ours. The way you told the story and assembled the details was very hard hitting and heart rending, and very far-reaching. I thank you brother.

By the time I finished the story, and read your reminders at the bottom, I realized how lucky I have been for all these years, driving tired, as so many of my friends and associates do. You have finally done what no other person or event has been able to do, you've gotten through to me in a way that will remain indelible and permanent. I'll print this page and share it with my co-workers, freinds, loved ones and family. Thank you for turning what must be one of the most horrible events of your life into a beautiful gift to all of us who are lucky enough to read it. You are a brave warrior and a caring and responsible human being. J.C.
I read your story at sleep.html. I think you are very brave to write such a personal story and share it with others. Having lost family in an auto accident, I can somewhat empathize with your loss. Also having been one of those people willing to drive for 24 hours straight, I took special notice. I believe I will not attempt such a trip again. D.R.
I have been a member of your list for about a year and often visit your site. I have just read your page....sleep.html. And was moved to tears, not something a 50 year old Englishman does :-) I will send the web address on to others. I can see how much you loved Robyn May your God bless and keep you. S.
A few minutes ago you responded to my question about dream walks. I then went on to complete another search about healing, but was drawn back to your pages where I took a longer look.

What I read was about your wife and her death last spring, and how you wrote was deeply touching. Two weeks ago I was diagnosed with a severe form of invasive breast cancer and was told that there are some cures, and also to get my affairs in order. I am 47 with a first-grader to love and raise, and all of me is choosing life! During these past days I realized, among many insights, that should I not survive the cancer at least I have this time to prepare myself, my daughter, complete relationships and clean up paperwork. So perhaps that is why reading about your wife's passing so suddenly made me once again value the gift of time that I have. With many therapeutic modalities working for me along with prayers and healing circles, I do feel strong enough to survive my challenge. Reading your honest, heartfelt words was a gift tonight in my process. You seem to have quite an interesting path full of many turns and interests. Thanks for sharing much of it online. H.
Recently I took A trip cross country to Indiana,by myself. For A visit with 4 of my 5 sister's. On the second day of my trip I was trying to make a few more miles for the day, which had already turned into a 10 hour drive for the day. I was debaiting rather or not to push it a few more hours or stop & get a motel. All the sudden the story of your wife started to run through my head.I pulled off & got a room for the night. THANKS! Wado K.W. Brawley, Calif.
I came upon your web pages when I was looking for calendars, then I proceeded to read all about your past year and Robin's death. I live in Sarasota and make a lot of road trips, so the story really hit home. I have made that same drive a few times, although I generally head north to Ohio before I drive cross country. I am so sorry for your loss, and this is one chica who will never again "just keep driving" when I'm tired and need to stop. Thank you for the poignant reminder. Best to you, I send a prayer for you and your healing heart. J.H.
I have just read your article on the death of your wife and found it particularly disturbing.As I live in New Zealand, it brings back reality as our road toll has been increasing for a number of years. I think your article is very thought provoking. J.W.
I am truly touched by the story you wrote about your wife's death. I thought this poem might have some meaning for you:

Do not stand by my grave and weep
I am not there I do not sleep

I am the thousand winds that blow
I am the diamond glints on snow

I am the sunlight on ripened grain
I am the gentle autumn's rain

When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circled flight
I am the star that shines at night

Do not stand by my grave and cry
I am not there I did not die.

- Author Unknown-

thank you , for having the courage to write such an incredible story that had to be so hard to do. I feel like I knew her myself. belated regards, j.l.
Dear Phil...thank you for the time you took to relate this terrible tragedy to a stranger. I am so sorry for Robins loss...she looked a kind person. I go on a lot of long drives...the latest to Phoenix and back over a weekend by way of the Grand Canyon...I know first hand the hypnotic affect the road that goes on forever can have on you...your story reminds me to be ever vigilant and Not to push the limit....the thought of saving a few hours on a not worth the loss of an lefetime with my loved ones. Thank you!!! M.
I turned to your site because I am involved with Native Americans, especially those in California where I live. (I couldn't "send" from your site, however) Then I read about your wife's car crash. It was deja vu for me since I had a similar type crash. The only difference is that I lived to tell about it. I was not really tired. I was driving a 340 mile trip I had made many times from L.A. to Santa Cruz. But I must have had an altered state of consciousness, gotten into a trance from a route that had become too familiar, monotonous to me. I drove off the road, caught myself, turned back too sharply and turrned over my van on its left side. My van and I skidded down a hill for 1/4 mi and came to rest at the bottom.I had a chance to review my life, which I assumed was over. Nevertheless, I was able to walk out through the front window,bowing deeply to the assembled travelers as I emerged, but the new van was totaled. I've been traumatized ever since, especially with the thought of how very easy it was to do what I did. Needless to say, there is a learning in it, as you and I are careful to point out to others.

My van was special, too. It was named "atishwin," the Chumash Indian word for dream guide or helper, since the van had come to me in a dream and dreams had urged me to embark on a new turn to my life. I grieve for your wife that she was unable to continue to fulfill her dreams. Thanks for sharing her story. L.R.
I felt the need to express my condolences on your loss, I've traveled the very same road a few times in my life and know exaclty how dangerous it is..

I once fell asleep at the wheel driving on a different stretch of interstate, in my case, between Jackson Michigan and Battle Creek Michigan. By some act of fate I was awakened by a truck drivers horn, ironically I was returning from the funeral of a close friend of mine who along with four others had died less then two weeks before when he fell asleep at the wheel. I'm going to be stuck with the task of once again driving the long drive, this time along route 80 from Michigan to Northern California when I can afford the move to be with my wife, i'm looking forward to settling back in Cali, but the drive of this length is always a daunting trip. W.K.
Dear Phil: I was surfing the net looking for reference materials for articles and research and saw your message regarding your wife. I extend you you and your family my deepest condolences, remembering the words of my Uncle Little Crow as he prays: " ...We pray for the sick, the ill, the dying and the infirm which includes us all. We pray for those who will loose their lives today that their passing would be peaceful and good. We pray for the familes who are left behind to grieve and for those who still mourn. We pray for the little children who come by choice once again, to lead us home." Know you are in our thoughts. D.C.


In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made in her name to the:

San Diego Oceans Foundation
"for Robyn"
P.O.Box 90672
San Diego, CA. 92169-2672

Please feel free to add a link to this site. I am available for media interviews to discuss sleepy drivers or Robyn's crash. I have also made a series of TV Public Service Announcements (PSAs) for the CHP in which I talk about Robyn's crash. The PSAs are available for airplay. You can contact me by e-mail or at the address below if you would like a copy.

Officer Phil Konstantin
California Highway Patrol
7183 Opportunity Rd.
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 467-3334

Click here to return to Robyn's story

Click here to see pictures of Robyn's Crash

Links to other Drowsy Driver sites:

Statistics related to Drowsy Driver crashes:

Click here to see a 30 second PSA on Robyn's crash. (726k in mpg format)

Go to Robyn's Whale Watching page:

Go to Robyn's Obituary:

Web Rings for this site:

Go to Phil's American Indian history page:

Go to Phil's California Highway Patrol page: