Reach for cellphone leads to chain-reaction crash that kills 3

Posted on in Car Accidents

A Gonzales, California, woman was arrested Thursday night after a car accident that involved eight vehicles and killed three people, according to the California Highway Patrol. She was arrested on suspicion of felony gross vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence.

The CHP said the crash happened as the woman was driving her SUV on Highway 101. She took her eyes off the road to reach for a cellphone, lost control and swerved into northbound traffic, colliding head-on with a Volkswagen carrying four people. Three of the people in the Volkswagen were killed and the fourth suffered serious injuries. The group was returning from a funeral in King City.

After the two cars crashed, the SUV collided with another vehicle, a pickup truck whose passenger suffered moderate injuries. These two collisions caused a third when a Honda Element rear-ended a Chevrolet pickup truck that was trying to swerve around the first crash; a passenger in the Chevy was injured. But the damage didn't end there. After the Volkswagen crashed, its engine flew out of the car and into the path of a Suzuki SUV. That SUV struck the engine, tossing it over the center divider and into the southbound lane of 101. There it was struck by yet another pickup truck, whose driver lost control, swerved to the left and struck another vehicle, which rolled on its side.

The woman in the SUV suffered a broken neck and is being treated at a hospital. Although she was suspected of driving drunk, the fact that she took her eyes off the road to reach for a cellphone shows that anyone is capable of causing a serious crash when they're distracted. As a result of just one wrong move, 15 people were involved in a crash that took 23 firefighters and emergency technicians to respond. With three dead and many more injured, the woman could be held liable for much or all of the victims' expenses. No cellphone call is worth that kind of trouble.

Source: The Californian, "Gonzales woman arrested in triple-fatal crash on Hwy. 101," Feb. 24, 2012

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