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Thu March 10, 2011
Lapeer County man first in the state to be charged with 'Texting While Driving" in fatal crash
Michigan’s new ‘Texting While Driving’ law will get its first test in a fatal auto accident in Lapeer County. The driver who allegedly caused the accident that killed a 78 year old woman was allegedly texting behind the wheel.
Byron Konschuh is the Lapeer County Prosecuting Attorney. He says records show a text message being sent from the driver’s mobile phone around the same time of the accident. Konschuh says the charge carries a possible one year jail term, which he thinks isn’t enough.
“There have been many studies that show when someone is texting at the time they are operating a motor vehicle they are up to three to four times as dangerous as an individual operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol.”
Konschuh admits they don’t have evidence placing the texting device in the driver’s hand at the time of the accident.
“It would be very difficult for us to prove that at the exact second that he was actually holding the phone and typing in something….but the evidence shows that type of activity is taking place very close to the time of the crash.”
A pre-trial hearing in the case is scheduled for next month.
WJRT-TV interviewed the husband of the woman killed in the accident.
Paul and Irene Paquin were on their way home from an afternoon appointment. Mr. Paquin was behind the wheel, Mrs. Paquin in the passenger seat. "And I remember everything just as clear as a bell. For some reason or another, I looked to my right and there was that grill. Then came the crash, the glass," Paul remembered.
Paul's wife, 78-year-old Irene Paquin, died from the injuries she received in the crash. "Finally I asked if I could see my wife. And she was in a small room, just wide enough for a chair, a wheelchair and a gurney at the hospital. When I saw her, I didn't recognize her. The only way I could tell it was her was by looking at her hands. Gave her a kiss on the forehead and said 'Bye, dear.'"