How Would You Like to be Guilty of Vehicular Homicide?

texting

The picture to the right is a real photo of an accident that happened as a result of texting and driving. A man, who had probably successfully texted while driving several times, failed this time, and it cost him his life. While looking at his phone, this man swerved into the wrong lane, right into the path of an 18-wheeler. When he was finally recovered from the wreck, he was in two pieces. Consider the devastation those close to him feel; consider the pain the driver of the semi-truck has to live with for the rest of his life.

You may be tired of hearing about texting while driving; you may be sick of all the warnings and feel that it will never happen to you. You may believe that texting while driving is harmless, and even necessary. How hard is it, after all, to focus on the road as long as you look up every few seconds? You can’t risk having your boss or your friend wait to receive a response, that would be rude.

Regardless of what you believe now, we hope to change your mind with this article. Unfortunately, some people don’t learn until it happens to them, but by then it is too late – you have killed an innocent person, and the next years of your life will be turned upside down as you face years of prison time. And since every person is connected to at least one other, not only have you killed someone, you have destroyed at least one other life, or possibly, you won’t be around to see the agony that your texting has caused, because you will be dead.

Perhaps now children have to live without their mother because your text was too important to wait until you pulled to safety. Now a pregnant wife will have to face raising her child on her own, and living life without her husband, because you were sure that you could focus on your phone and the road safely. Now a sweet grandmother will be taken from her grandchildren because you weren’t concerned for her safety.

To many, these  seem to be extreme examples of what might happen while texting, and in some cases they are. Many people who text and drive get away with it – and possibly you have too. Chances are that you have had that experience of looking up from your phone to realize that you are headed for the ditch, but have easily corrected your vehicle and gone right back to texting, more determined than ever to focus on both tasks.

It’s easy to dismiss the warnings of texting while driving if you have been doing it without problems for some time, but texting while driving isn’t like other activities, where if you fail once you haven’t really caused any harm. If just one time you fail while texting and driving, and kill someone, all those other times you executed it safely will not earn you points. As the source of this image and story explains, “It only takes one stupid mistake to end someone’s life” (Texting Terror).

The fact is, texting while driving makes it 23 times more likely that you will cause an accident, according to TextingandDrivingSafely.com, and according to the CDC, 331,000 people were killed in an accident involving distracted driving. That is 331,000 too many. That is 331,00 people who could have lived if not for that one instance where a driver lost control.

To help you realize the impact of texting and driving, read the following recent stories. While you are reading, keep in mind that each of these drivers believed it couldn’t happen to them, and that they could handle the multi-task. The first story is a perfect example of drivers who don’t learn unless someone dies. As stated earlier, many drivers have probably run off the road or nearly done so while texting, but since no harm was done, they continued to text; such is the case with this woman.

Kalamazoo, MI

Wood TV

In April of 2012, Lisa Evans ran her vehicle into a marsh as a result of distracted driving. Evans was talking on her phone, and not paying attention to the road. She was ticketed for the incident. A few months later, in July, Evans was sending a text message on her cell phone when she ran a stop sign and struck a semi-truck. The semi-truck caught fire and the driver, 24-year-old Zachary Neal, died on the scene. 42-year-old Evans died the next day.

Anchorage, AK

Anchorage Daily News

Murphy Madison Gross ran a red light in his dad’s Tahoe, T-boning a Jeep and killing 27-year-old Catherine Cope, a mother of two.

Gross has been charged with manslaughter, felony texting-while-driving, three counts of third-degree assault related injuries, driving under the influence, and driving without a valid driver’s license. Gross denies texting while driving but his phone shows otherwise, with a text appearing just two minutes before the accident.

Haverhill, MA

USA Today News

Aaron Deveau was charged with motor vehicle homicide and negligent operation while texting after his car crossed a center line and hit another vehicle head-on, killing driver Donald Bowley, Jr. Bowley was a 55-year-old father of three. His girlfriend was injured in the collision.

Deveau, like Gross, denied sending texts at the time of the accident, but again, his phone shows that he was sending texts right before, and after the accident. Deveau was sentenced to 2.5 years behind bars and will have to surrender his license for 15 years.

Wolcott, CT

News 8

Stephanie Clavell was texting and driving when she crashed into a motorcycle, which then crashed into an SUV. The man, Terrence Doyle, was a much loved electrician in the area. Doyle was not wearing a helmet and went head first into the windshield of the SUV in front of him.

Ironically, Doyle would often complain when he saw people texting and driving. Now there is a sign on the side of the road where he died that reads, “Texting Kills.”

New Castle, PA

CBS Philly

Laura Gargiulo, a 42-year-old, was charged with vehicular homicide and involuntary manslaughter when she rear-ended a motorcyclist. 68-year-old Daniel Gallatin was a former volunteer fire chief and was dragged under Gargiulo’s vehicle and died. Gargiulo’s phone showed an open text message at the time of the crash.

Kansas City, MO

KMOV St. Louis

Rachel Gannon has been charged with causing the death of a 72-year-old woman as a result of texting and driving. Gannon will face three and a half years in prison. She admits to looking at her phone and then losing control of her vehicle.

 

Not only did these drivers cause the death of at least one person, but caused unbearable and preventable suffering to all connected with the victims. Think of the pain you would feel if any of these accidents involved your loved ones. Think of the anger you may feel at the drivers who were too unconcerned for your loved one’s safety to put away their phones while driving.

If you text and drive, and think nothing is wrong with it, these small examples should be enough to reconsider your stance on texting and driving. For the sake of argument, say that YOU can handle texting and driving, but what about the other drivers? Do you trust them to be able to handle the task, while your loved ones are out driving near them?

Because of the large problem of texting and driving, states are beginning to set forth laws against it. Some states, such as Utah, have laws that allow police officers to pull over a driver for no other reason than texting while driving, while others require another reason, such as swerving, to pull over distracted drivers. Drivers can have their license revoked or suspended and be fined hundreds of dollars if caught texting and driving.

If a person kills another as a result of distracted driving, drivers will not only face being charged with vehicular homicide, years in prison, and a wrongful death suit by the family of the victim, but will also have to live with the fact that they killed an innocent person.

Please don’t text and drive. Put your phone in your glove box if it is too much of a temptation.

We at Christensen & Hymas realize the devastation and tragedy that texting while driving can cause, as we have handled many cases that involve such. If you have been injured, or your loved one has been killed in an accident due to distracted driving, we can help you seek the compensation you deserve. Compensation will not ease the pain of your loss, but will help you carry on with your life by allowing you to cover medical or funeral expenses. There is simply no excuse for texting while driving, and if this negligence has cost you your loved one’s life, or has caused injury, please call us today at (801) 506-0800 for a free consultation.

Photo courtesy of Texting Terror.

Ken Christensen
Partner, Founder at Christensen & Hymas
Ken Christensen is the founding partner of Christensen & Hymas. He is an avid cyclist, loves baseball, and enjoys spending time with his family in the outdoors.

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