Toddler Killed and Mother Injured By California Teen Texting While Driving

This beautiful child is Calli Murray, 2, who became the latest fatality of a driver who was texting while driving. The driver was Sonoma State University freshman Kaitlyn Dunaway who was texting while driving in California. She slammed her Honda into Calli and her mother Ling Murray, 40, who suffered a broken leg, a shattered pelvis and broken arm. However, Dunaway, 18, will only be charged with a misdemeanor offense.

The mother spent a month in the hospital and months more in rehabilitation.

These are tough cases in terms of sentencing. It was a stupid and lethal act but not an intentional crime (other than the intent to text). As a result of the misdemeanor, Dunaway faces no more than a year in jail.

This may be the appropriate charge but usually the family has the better option of a civil lawsuit for wrongful death. In this case, however, Dunaway is a legal adult and thus her parents would presumably not be subject to the lawsuit. The result is a college student with presumably little in terms of assets. It is still, however, worth the lawsuit. You cannot claim bankruptcy to judicially awarded damages and the result is that Dunaway could spend much of her life having to pay for this act. Even if only a token garnishment, it is a constant reminder of the terrible cost imposed on the family.

Before this misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charge, Dunaway had a 2009 conviction for riding in part of a vehicle that is not designed to carry passengers. She was also accused of traveling at an excessive speed.

I would be interested in how our readers view the treatment of these type of accidents as a misdemeanor. Would justice be truly served by jailing this teenager for more than a year?

Source: SF Gate

36 thoughts on “Toddler Killed and Mother Injured By California Teen Texting While Driving”

  1. Wow! i’m shocked. She kills a kid and y’all talk as its ok this sorta thing happens all the time, if she was black, y’all would want her black butt locked up and talk smack about her. ):-(

  2. Wow! I am so touched. My mom texted while driving and after I did some research for a progect i am in awe. I hope this doesn’t happen again. AWESTRUCK!!!

  3. Finally a company who actually gets it, obviously just telling our teens “just don’t text and drive” is not working, this company provides “on demand” texting safe and legally.

  4. Stu & Cassie:

    You don’t have to program the cell phones to block voice calls while moving, just text messages. But I would also compel the cell phone manufacturers to make the phones inert to voice calls unless they are connected to their hands-free peripherals: speakerphone or earpiece (Blue tooth or wired). It’s a lot easier to mandate technology than good behavior. I’m pretty sure that air bags and antilock brakes have saved more lives than driver education classes.

  5. Just for the poll: I feel the penalty is related to the teen’s reaction to the event. In the case of a normal person, I would expect the responsibility itself to be a tremendous shock, and more than enough of a punitive verdict. It obviously does not cover the reparative side of things, but neither would prison.

  6. It is a lot easier to prove DUI than the driver was texting. There is objective forensic testing for DUI. There are no blood tests for texting. Enforcement would be a nightmare for law enforcement and prosecutors. Any good defense lawyer would eat the prosecution witnesses for lunch in a texting case. Negligence is easier to prove, but you cannot sentence someone for murder on a charge of negligence.

  7. Sorry — I meant to say killing someone while drunk driving should be 2nd degree.

  8. It should be 2nd degree murder. So should DUI.

    Cassie — fixing cell phones so they can’t work which traveling at a high speed is a terrible idea. You wouldn’t be able to use one on the bus, or a train, or if you were a passenger in the car.

    Lifetime loss of license wouldn’t necessarily work. We see plenty of repeat drunk drivers who haven’t had a license in ten years.

  9. What we need is car-installed blocking technology . . . or phones that won’t pick up a signal when traveling at a given rate of speed. In the meantime, I’d settle for laws that equate texting with drinking.

  10. Ban her from having a cel phone for 10 years. People live with only landlines so can she.

  11. I say, revoke her driver’s license for life. Something has to wake people up to the dangers involved with distracted driving. She can’t be intelligent (a college student!!) and/or responsible? Then, she can’t drive. Period.

  12. “I would be interested in how our readers view the treatment of these type of accidents as a misdemeanor. Would justice be truly served by jailing this teenager for more than a year?”

    These types of accidents are a function of our technology getting way ahead of our cultural practices.

    It takes a village of focused people to bring us up to speed, to bring us up to the place where these things are RARE.

    We need to get beyond the 18th Amendment, well intentioned but very bad ideology, and move on to stop blaming this shit on the devil.

  13. she should get at least 2 years in jail for killing the 2 year old. I’ll bet she’s still texting while driving. And what are all you people talking about anyway. Probably stupid crap like I’m at Target or Safeway. It is nothing to brag about if you think you’re so good at multi-tasking while driving. I remember going for a ride for the rides sake. Now I don’t know if someone will sideswipe me because they feel the need to yap, yap, yap every second of their lives. Shut up, all of you…just shut fhe f— up.

  14. pete
    1, May 20, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    only if you have one of those coffee makers that plug into the cigarette lighter. gotta have a cuppa joe after that sixpack


    Of course….we Texans like our coffee….and string….Data Power port AC enabled……

    Now if I could just use something other than that Mexican Tequila to make the coffee….but hey…I’m learning one sip at a time…..and then after the third….it does not really matter does it….

  15. You folks have no imagination, and naturally reach for the most simplistic and stupid of solutions.

    The solution is both to make texting harder by the driver and also to make texting easier for the driver.

    A) CELLPHONES should be treated like open bottles of liquor. How many studies does it take before we acknowledge the distracting power of cellphones.

    So cars, laws, and people should be outfitted to understand, driver’s cellphone is locked away. Lock it or lose it.

    B) COMPUTERS and COMMUNICATIONS are incredibly useful, but their use by the driver has to be controlled.

    TOSS THE HEAD DOWN CELLPHONE into the trunk’s lockbox.

    ENCOURAGE and demand training to use head’s up displays. For navigation, and for many of the heads down car operations including radio tuning. And if you can have nav heads up, it’s perhaps reasonable to allow some amount of texting to occur over a heads up display, with voice recognition as the only input.

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