Teen Driver Found Guilty In Fatal Crash Linked To Texting
HAVERHILL (CBS) — A teen has been found guilty of motor vehicle homicide by negligent operation in a 2011 fatal car crash linked to texting.
Aaron Deveau, 18, was sentenced to to 2 and a half years on a motor vehicle homicide charge and two years on a texting charge. Deveau will serve only one year for both charges with the balance of the sentence to be suspended for five years with three years probation.Given that this is Massachusetts, and the local buzz is that this sentence was "too harsh", I'd imagine he'll be out of jail before the end of the year. This case is a tough one - there's certainly no intent to cause harm, yet through gross negligence, someone lost their life. Deveau claims that he was not texting at the time of the accident; prosecutors say they have evidence he was. Assuming that the prosecutors are not lying (which is always a possibility, but doubtful in this case given the level of attention it has received), he's guilty of breaking several traffic laws as well as the negligent homicide charge.
To an extent, I feel for Deveau. At 17, you're young and immortal and have no concept of how fragile and fleeting life can be. I had a good friend in high school, the same age as Deveau, who was screwing around one day while driving - this was ages before texting - and wound up getting into an accident that killed both his passenger and the pregnant woman he hit. He didn't mean to lose control of his car, it just happened - and two (three) people died as a result. The legal and emotional toll on my friend was phenomenal.
Is the sentence too harsh, though? Bear in mind that this crash happened after MA banned texting, and that cell phone use by drivers under the age of 18 was also illegal at the time. While Deveau claims to have put his phone down before driving, there's a disconnect somewhere. If he was close enough to the scene of the crash that phone records might be fuzzy (i.e. the crash happened within 5 minutes of his last documented text which he claims was while the car was moving), then his claim of being sleepy and distracted about homework is harder to swallow - distracted enough to cause a fatal crash in 5 minutes or less?
It's tough, it really is. The intent was not there, but regardless of whether or not he intended to kill someone, the end result is that someone lost their life as a result of Deveau's negligence. Teenagers (and adults too) have been prosecuted for fatal crashes resulting from drag racing or speeding; this is a new twist on a very old problem - teenagers with little driving experience being distracted at the wheel. Is the penalty appropriate? That's a difficult call - to the family of the man killed, certainly not; to the young man whose life is about to change dramatically, absolutely.
There are no winners here; perhaps though the severity of the charge will cause others to think twice before texting behind the wheel.
That is all.