Sergeant Jason Bailey says 18-year-old Kyleigh Severn was trying to drive and text at the same time. “She admitted to us that she was on her phone. She left the roadway to the right and struck a pedestrian and also struck a tree,” Bailey.
Severn told officers she was not aware she had struck anything other than the tree until she stopped her car and got out and saw people helping the man she struck. The man Severn hit, 36-year-old Kenneth Hill of Council Bluffs was taken to the hospital and was treated and eventually released. Sergeant Bailey says it’s an accident that never should have happened.
“Put the phone down and stay off the phone. It’s against the law — not only that it’s against the law — just the sheer dangers of it. It could have been far worse.” Severn was given a ticket for unlawful use of an electronic device. Officer Bailey says accidents related to texting and phone use have become more of an issue.
“I think we’re seeing a steady increase, just because everyone is using their phones. We hope that trend reverses with our new laws, that people answer them when they get to their destination. Iowa law changed in July allowing officers to pull someone over they see who is texting and driving. Before the change officers had to pull someone over for something else to charge them with texting and driving. Severn faces a 100 dollar fine for texting and driving. Sergeant Bailey says if Hill had been killed in the accident — Severn would be facing a much more sever penalty.
“Any type of crash that results in a fatality, if you are deemed at fault and you are on your phone, it’s considered motor vehicle homicide in Iowa and you face up to ten years in prison,” Bailey says. “There isn’t a phone call or message that’s worth ten years in prison.” He says using an electronic device is prohibited while on the traveled portion of the roadway. This includes while stopped for traffic signals or stop signs.
(By Karla James, Omaha)