The Oregonian this week reported on a guilty plea by a 24-year-old Gresham woman in an Oregon distracted driving case that encapsulates everything that is wrong with this growing problem.
According to the newspaper, the defendant admitted to “taking cellphone video of her child when she crashed into three teens outside their high school in January.” The three 14 and 15-year-old girls “sustained skull, pelvis and knee fractures” according to the paper, as well as “a broken nose, concussion and a lost tooth, and… a torn ACL and a concussion, court documents said.”
“Investigators found a 19-second clip on (the driver’s) phone that showed her hands off the wheel just before she plowed into the teens in the crosswalk, court documents said. She appeared to be holding the phone in her left hand and making gestures with her right hand at her son sitting in the back seat. Phone records show she had also been texting before the crash,” the Oregonian writes.
Beyond the children injured in this crash we also need to consider the danger to which this mother exposed her own son. As a result, there may be further legal consequences as a result of this extremely reckless distracted driving. If one of the girls she hit had died, or if an accident had resulted in the death of her own son, the driver might be subject to an Oregon wrongful death action. Though we can all be relieved that no one died in this car crash, that does not mean that this case is over. It will take months, perhaps even years, for the victims to recover from the serious injuries outlined by the newspaper.
As an Oregon distracted driving attorney I will be interested to see whether any of the victims pursue civil actions against the driver. The criminal charges that she has acknowledged begin the process of paying her debt to society, but they are only the first step toward providing justice for the victims of her reckless behavior.