Grieving Grafton Mom Says New Cellphone Law Would be a 'Huge Step Forward'

Sandy Quadros Bowles

A bill that would ban drivers from using hand-held cellphones was passed nearly unanimously May 15 by the state House of Representatives.

For Cheryl Cosman, the Grafton mother of a daughter killed by a driver on his cellphone, that’s a “huge step forward″ in her effort to spare others the tragedy her family faces.

Grafton native Jessica Cosman, 22, was walking in Boston on a snowy evening in January 2017 when she was struck and killed by a vehicle.

Police determined the driver was on his cellphone on a snowy street at the time of the deadly crash, but was not charged.

“I will always wonder what would have happened if he had both hands on the wheel,″ Jessica’s mother, Cheryl Cosman, said. “Maybe he would have been able to blare his horn.″

“In just seconds ... things can change,″ she said.

A gifted student, Jessica Cosman was headed determinedly into a bright future, her mother said.

“She was very accomplished,″ Cheryl Cosman said. “She was very confident. She knew what she wanted, and she did it. She just loved life. She had everything going for her.″

Jessica graduated from Grafton High School in 2012 and magna cum laude in 2016 from Boston University. She was working for Relay Therapeutics as a research associate at the time of her death.

“My big thing is the lack of consequences, especially when somebody gets killed in the process,″ Cheryl Cosman said. ’That completely floors me.″

Under the bill passed by the House, drivers could face fines of up to $500 if pulled over while holding a cellphone. Using a cellphone hands-free would be allowed.

The Senate is expected to consider a measure banning cellphones while driving next month. Governor Charlie Baker has expressed support for the measure.

Speaking out about the issue does not come naturally to Cheryl Cosman. “I get very emotional thinking about her, let alone talking about her,″ she said.

But she is determined to remind people that talking on a cell phone while driving, which she said she sees people do every day, virtually every time she stops at a stoplight, can lead to tragedy.

“I want to make people more aware of these things,″ she said.

To honor their daughter’s memory, the Cosman family created the Jessica Cosman Memorial Scholarship, which is presented each year to students who wish to pursue higher education in life sciences, as Jessica did.

Donations can be made to the Jessica Cosman Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o Central One Federal Credit Union, 40 South Street Westborough, MA, 01581 or via a GoFundMe account.

The most recent scholarships were distributed at a ceremony on May 7.

The pain remains fresh for Cheryl, who said she cries and has to leave the venue when her son presents the scholarships. “It’s hard,″ she said. “We’re doing a good thing in her name, that’s the way I look at it.″

And she is inspired by the daughter who hopes to continue her education and loved doing research and dreamed of curing cancer.

“We’re doing our best,″ she said. “She did her best.″