Court records in a criminal case reveal that a woman accused of DUI manslaughter in the death of an off-duty Cal Fire firefighter may have been speaking on her cellphone moments before the fatal accident. A 24-year-old Santa Nella woman is accused of making a left-hand turn in front of a motorcycle on June 9. A 29-year-old off-duty firefighter was killed in the motorcycle accident on Highway 165, just after 9 p.m., that June evening.
A witness reportedly told the California Highway Patrol that he saw the Santa Nella woman speaking on her cellphone before the fatal motorcycle crash. The woman accused of the drunk driving related accident repeatedly told police that night that she was not on her cellphone, according to court documents.
As a part of its investigation into the fatal accident, the CHP reportedly obtained cellphone records showing the woman made a 1-second outbound call at 9:12 p.m. the evening of the crash. She reportedly received a cellphone call at 9:13 p.m., which lasted for just under a half-minute. At 9:16 p.m., cellphone records reportedly show that a call was placed from her cellphone, which lasted for 33-seconds. The accident occurred at 9:15 that evening. The accused reportedly says she did not know the area and had pulled over to call her boyfriend before the fatal accident.
The woman reportedly registered 0.07 percent blood alcohol concentration after the crash. The alcohol breath-test was reportedly administered more than an hour-and-a-half after the fatal motorcycle accident. The allegations against the Santa Nella woman have not been proven in the criminal case.
Incidents involving distracted driving have garnered a lot of attention in recent months. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has been outspoken on the general dangers of distracted driving, especially in regard to cellphone and other electronic media use in automobiles.
Similarly, the dangers surrounding drinking and driving have long been understood. Most Californians are aware of the dangers drunk driving poses to motorists.
Source: Merced Sun Star, “Phone evidence entered in fatal DUI case,” Corey Pride, Oct. 12, 2011