Massachusetts teen charged with texting before fatal accident

We often report how dangerous texting while driving is. That’s why many states, including Massachusetts, have enacted laws against it. Even so, many people continue to text while they drive — especially young drivers who are also inexperienced behind the wheel.

One Massachusetts teen is now facing prison time after being charged with texting while driving and causing a fatal car accident in February 2011. The 17-year-old has insisted he wasn’t focusing on his cell phone when he hit an on-coming pickup truck head-on in Haverhill, Massachusetts.

But prosecutors don’t buy it and have charged the teen with motor vehicle homicide by negligent operation and several other traffic violations. The accident occurred on Feb. 20, 2011, and the 55-year-old driver of the pickup truck died just 18 days later.

At the criminal trial, which began this week, the victim’s sister said her brother died of a traumatic brain injury he sustained in the crash. The victim’s girlfriend, who was in the pickup at the time of the accident, told the court that it was a “miracle” that she is alive.

In cases like this, much of the evidence boils down to information gathered from cell phone records. In the prosecutions opening statement, the assistant district attorney said that the teen deleted two text messages from his phone occurring right around the time of the crash.

On the other hand, the teen’s defense attorney told the jury not to be convinced by the picture painted by the prosecution. He said that from the very beginning, authorities wanted to link the accident to texting while driving.

No matter how you look at it, this is a tragic reminder of how important it is to put away cell phones while driving.

Source: CNN, “Massachusetts teen on trial, accused of texting before fatal crash,” June 1, 2012