Fatal Texting-While-Driving Case Results in Criminal Charges Against Minnesota Teen

The Chuck and Cassy Maurer memorial fund has surpassed $8,400 in donations from supporters who have sympathized with the family over their wrongful deaths in a highway crash caused by a Minnesota teen driver who had been texting while driving. The collision in Sherburne County happened when the 17-year-old driver sailed through a red light into the Maurer’s vehicle as it crossed through the intersection. The teen was charged this month with two counts each of criminal vehicular homicide and criminal vehicular operation, texting and driving, and driving without a valid license.

Mr. Maurer was 54 and his 10-year-old daughter, Cassy, was going into the fifth grade. She has a sister and brother and by all accounts the family was known for keeping a bright, jovial presence in their community of Becker, Minnesota. The criminal complaint against the teen driver said she rebuffed a passenger in her vehicle when he told her to stop texting and pay more attention to the road. Investigators determined that she never applied the brakes. According to the complaint, cell phone records showed she sent and received multiple Facebook messages on the device for eight minutes leading up to the crash.

The dangerous, negligent behavior ended two lives and destroyed an active, vibrant family. Minnesota State Troopers have been referring to the tragedy as an example of how texting while driving is every bit as reckless as drunken driving.

Texting and Driving

Under Minnesota law, it is illegal for drivers to read/compose/send text messages and emails, or access the Internet using a wireless device while the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic —including stopped in traffic or at a traffic light. Cell phone use is totally banned for teen drivers during their permit and provisional license stages. Distracted or inattentive driving is when a driver engages in any activity that might distract them from the primary task of driving — and increases their risk of crashing.

According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety,  distracted or inattentive driving is a factor in one in four crashes, resulting in at least 70 deaths and 350 serious injuries per year. Traffic safety officials say the estimates probably are low because texting is vastly under-reported due to law enforcement’s challenge in determining distraction as a crash factor.

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Category: Accidents
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