“Gabby’s Light” honors Worcester 20-year-old killed by texting driver

WORCESTER — Nearly three years after a 20-year-old Worcester woman was killed by a distracted driver less than a half-mile from her home, a plaque and street light were dedicated in her name Wednesday.

In June 2018, Gabriella “Gabby” Lowell was struck and killed in a crosswalk on a dimly lit stretch of Grafton Street while walking home from McDonald’s.

The then-21-year-old driver, Tyler Hamilton, admitted to looking down at a text message at the time of the crash.

“He didn’t just tap her,” Gabby’s mother, Alyson Lowell said. “His vehicle threw her in the air 66 feet. And that’s the harsh reality of texting and driving.”

While Alyson has since forgiven the driver, she has been focused on carrying on the memory of her happy, vivacious daughter and making the community safer.

After about a year of Alyson’s work talking to city leaders and advocating for safer streets, local officials gathered Wednesday at the site of the accident for a dedication ceremony for the newly constructed “Gabby’s Light.”

“This is going to literally save people’s lives. And what a great legacy. What a great tribute,” Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus said. “I really want to acknowledge Alyson’s strength, her courage, her advocacy.”

The flashing light will illuminate the street at night, slow down drivers and alert them of pedestrians attempting to cross. The plaque beside it bearing Gabby’s name will ensure her presence is felt there forever.

“Gabby lit up a room. It’s fitting that she has a light in her honor,” Alyson said. “She loved to help others, and I know that she is smiling down from heaven, happy that she could potentially save someone from having the same fate as her.”

Dozens of family members and friends joined Alyson as she pressed the button on Gabby’s Light and crossed the street where her daughter was killed.

Hamilton pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide by negligent operation in 2019 and was sentenced to four years of probation and a 15-year license suspension.

Although Alyson forgives Hamilton, she is hoping to work with lawmakers on legislation that would make vehicular homicide by distracted driving a felony, resulting in harsher penalties. She plans to call the legislation “Gabby’s Law.”

“People need to put down their phones,” Alyson said. “No text is as important as somebody’s life.”

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