Tuesday, August 27, 2013
In April of last year, my friend Fred was killed by a driver that was texting. Some things had fallen out of the back of his truck onto the highway and he stopped to pick them up. A state trooper stopped to help him. They were on the side of the road and the trooper had his lights flashing. The driver was texting and he hit them both. Fred died in the ambulance and the trooper was left with injuries that left him unable to continue in his position. The trial for the driver was yesterday, 16 months later. The driver was charged with involuntary manslaughter for killing Fred and reckless driving for striking the trooper. The judge threw out the involuntary manslaughter charge because the district attorney failed to prove he acted with disregard for human life. His cell phone records were inadmissible even though they showed he had been texting throughout his trip because it had been 5 minutes since his last text. This doesn't mean he wasn't texting when the accident happened, it could just mean that he hadn't yet sent it. He was sentenced to 12 months, with 6 months suspended. He will only have to serve 6 months in jail. Fred was a husband, father, grandfather, son, brother, friend and a deacon at his church. He was a good man and his family is devastated by the loss. I know that a longer sentence wouldn't bring Fred back, but it would have sent a message to people who text and drive. Fred's wife Patty has been speaking at high schools about the dangers of texting while driving and lobbying to have the laws changed. This won't bring Fred back either, but maybe it will save the life of someone else's loved one. Please, please, please do not text and drive and teach your children the dangers when they are old enough to get their licenses. There is NOTHING that is so important that it won't wait. NOTHING.