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Model Says Her Reconstructive Facial Surgery Should Serve As Warning About Distracted Driving

NEW HYDE PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- It took mere seconds for one woman's life to change forever.

Nicole Sincavage was 21 when she almost died in a distracted-driving accident. More than a dozen surgeries later, she's telling her story in an effort to warn others, CBS2's Nina Kapur reported Wednesday.

Sincavage, now 24, said it took just three seconds to turn her world upside down.

"I was coming home from work ... and traffic just stopped because of construction. For whatever reason, I did not stop," Sincavage said of the March 2016 accident.

MOREStudy: Distracted Driving Triples Crash Risk

Facial reconstruction
Nicole Sincavage (photo: CBSN New York)

Before she could even blink, Sincavage's car slid underneath the truck in front of her. The former prom queen and model broke every single bone in her face.

"I don't know how I caused the accident. I don't know if I was texting or not. I don't know," she said.

After extensive research, she connected with Dr. James Bradley at Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park, and this May, she finished the last of 16 facial reconstruction surgeries.

"Each surgery, there's the cost, then there's the emotional cost," Bradley said. "The recovery, which can be painful and things, but she kept going."

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On Wednesday, Sincavage joined her doctor and a member of AAA to tell her story at the hospital that gave her a newfound love for life. She said she hopes to educate others on the dangers of distracted driving, especially as we find ourselves in the midst of the 100 deadliest days of the year, those between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

"What makes them dangerous is that kids are out of high school and college and are on the roads, and what we see is a 17 percent uptick in the number of fatal crashes involving teen drivers during that period," said Robert Sinclair Jr., manager of media relations for AAA Northeast.

"Anything can happen in the split of a second, and life is a beautiful thing. I really haved learned to appreciate that," Sincavage said.

After three years of seemingly endless surgeries, lots of love and support, and a little therapy, Sincavage said she's finally able to call herself beautiful again. She's hoping by telling her story, a distracted-driving accident just like her's never happens again.

Though Sincavage said she may never get behind the wheel again, she will return to Temple University in the spring to continue her studies in chemistry. She said her surgeries sparked an interest in the biomedical field.

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