Nevada: Landmark " Phone Slaughter" Case....

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Apr 16, 2001, 10:08:02 AM4/16/01
****I practically Never talk or use my cellular phone anymore while I'm
driving because it IS dangerous and honestly nothing is ever That direly
important that I can't wait until I arrive home to use my land phone.

But I see it all the time, people yaking on the phone looking/ being
distracted. I often have to toot my horn to alert then that.. Helloooo.. the
light is Now green, etc. I especially see it with all the younger collage
aged kids. That's scary, one: because they usually don't drive well to begin
not having driven that long and also because I can Tell they are many times
sooo wrapped up in their conversation with their mindless chatter that they
are Not paying attention to where it needs to be... on the road!



Felony Charges in Distracted Driving Case

April 16 — A Las Vegas woman is facing a felony indictment for allegedly
causing a deadly traffic accident while talking on a cell phone.

Local prosecutors say the case is the first of its kind in Nevada, and could
be a landmark nationally.
Police say Karen Morris, 34, was traveling at 64 mph in a 45-mph zone while
talking on her cell phone.

They say she ran a red light, then smashed into another car — killing two
people, Leona Grief, 61, and Marcia Nathans, 65. A third passenger,
44-year-old Elliot Nathans, was injured and remains in serious condition.
Morris and her 7-year-old daughter were treated for minor injuries.

Witnesses told police Morris was talking on her cellular telephone as she
crashed and as she swerved around a line of cars at a previous crossroads
and ran that red light, Clark County deputy district attorney Mary Brown
told The Associated Press.

Morris' attorneys say the tragedy was an accident.

Case Could Be a Landmark

"The underlying facts are that she was speeding, running red lights and
talking on a cell phone without paying full time and attention," she said.
"The thing that makes this case memorable is the consequences. It's
certainly a first in our area, and we're not familiar with any other cases

Brown said a Cleveland motorist was convicted in 1993 of not paying full
attention while driving. In December, a Naval Academy midshipman whose car
slammed into another vehicle, killing its two occupants, while he fumbled
with his cell phone was acquitted of manslaughter but convicted of

He was fined $500 for negligent driving and given four points against the
revocation of his driver's license

When Inattention Is a Criminal Act

Morris was charged with three felony counts of reckless driving and two
felony counts of involuntary manslaughter for the March 25th incident. If
convicted on all counts, she faces up to 26 years in prison.

A local prosecutor said the use of cell phones while driving is legal. But
if a driver causes an accident while using one, they had better be prepared
to face the music.

"If you are inattentive because of that cell phone, you are violating due
care... And if that contributes to a crash and someone is killed then you
have committed a criminal act," prosecutor Gary Booker told KLAS television.

Cell Phones: As Bad As DWI?

Defense attorneys say the accident was nothing more than an accident. But
Booker said recent studies suggest that using cell phones while driving is
not just a nuisance for others on the road, it's a hazard almost on par with
driving while intoxicated.

"The studies tend to suggest that using a cell phone renders you four times
as likely to be involved in a crash," Booker said. "That's very nearly the
same as alcohol, by the way."

Morris is free on $100,000 bail. She faces an arraignment on April 25.

Some nations have banned the use of cellular phones while driving. In the
United States, many communities are considering similar moves. Brooklyn,
Ohio, Marlboro, N.J., and Suffolk County, New York, are among those to have
banned the practice.

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