Texting Teen Charged with Manslaughter

A Platte City, Missouri teen has been charged with manslaughter in the death of Loretta Larimer.

On September 26, 2011, 16-year-old Rachel Gannon was traveling north on Northwest Skyview Road, when she swerved into the path of a Larimer’s car.

Police say Gannon was looking at her cell phone and texting when she lost control of her car, causing the fatal accident.

Larimer, a mother, grandmother and cancer survivor, had to be cut from her car.  She was transported to the hospital, where she later died.  Larimer’s granddaughter, 10-year-old Brittney Neel, was riding in the backseat.  She suffered a broken arm but was otherwise okay.

Platte City Prosecutor Eric Zanhnd told KMCB 9 News, “Research shows that texting while driving is as dangerous as driving while drunk.  It should be illegal for anyone, of any age, to text while they drive.”

Gannon will stand trial as an adult and could face up to 4 years in prison, if convicted.

Larimer’s sons, John and Michael Larimer, told KMBC 9 they don’t want Gannon to go to jail, but they would like to see justice served.

“Enough lives have been ruined and shattered.  We certainly don’t want to ruin any young person’s life,” said John Larimer.

The brothers agree, they would like to see Gannon sentenced to community service, doing talks about the dangers of texting while driving.

“Somewhere, somehow, this has got to stop some way. Like I said, we miss our mother and it was just a senseless, senseless death,” said Michael Larimer.

According to the CDC,

  • In 2009, more than 5,400 people died in crashes that were reported to involve a distracted driver and about 448,000 people were injured.
  • Among those killed or injured in these crashes, nearly 1,000 deaths and 24,000 injuries included cell phone use as the major distraction.
  • Cell phone use while driving:
    • 25% of drivers in the United States reported that they regularly or fairly often talk on their cell phones while driving.
    • 75% of U.S. drivers ages 18 to 29 reported that they talked on their cell phone while driving at least once in the past 30 days, and nearly 40% reported that they talk on their cell phone regularly or fairly often while driving.
  • Texting or e-mailing while driving:
    • 9% of drivers in the United States reported texting or e-mailing regularly or fairly often while driving.
    • 52% of U.S. drivers ages 18-29 reported texting or e-mailing while driving at least once in the last 30 days, and more than a quarter report texting or e-mailing regularly or fairly often while driving.
    • Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted.

April is national Distracted Driving Awareness month.  Please take a moment and pass this on. No text is worth risking your life or the life of others.  The text can wait.