A Stephenville woman was arrested Friday after she caused the deaths of two young girls and serious injuries to their mother. Alyssa Litwin, 33, was driving her truck on U.S. Highway 281 southwest of Fort Worth at a speed of approximately 60 mph. But she was texting while driving and didn’t see the SUV in front of her at a complete stop waiting to make a left hand turn. A distracted driver usually doesn’t.
The high-speed crash pushed the SUV into oncoming traffic where it was struck by a truck.
As if her reckless driving were not bad enough, Litwin deleted her text messages. However a forensics exam of her cell phone showed her shocking act of tampering with evidence.
The mother had to be rushed by air ambulance to the ICU at Harris Hospital in Fort Worth. Fortunately, she is in stable condition and two other children in her vehicle were not hurt.
But this is such a heartbreaking story, especially at Christmas time. Please join our office in making a donation to the GoFundMe account that has been set up to assist the family.
Best Way To Stop a Distracted Driver
The district attorney of Erath County, Alan Nash, announced that he was going to prosecute Litwin for these crimes:
Two counts of manslaughter — second degree felony with punishment ranges from 2 to 20 years in prison;
One count of aggravated assault — second degree felony, range from 2 to 20 years in prison;
Four counts of endangering a child — third degree felony, range from 180 days to 2 years in jail; and
One count of tampering with evidence — third degree felony, 2 to 10 years in prison
In explaining his bold decision, he stated that “It is important for the drivers of Erath County to be warned that local prosecutors and law enforcement view cell phone use that take one’s eyes off the road, even for a few seconds, as reckless.”
He further noted that that the key word was “reckless,” as Texas law holds that operating a vehicle in such a manner that causes death or bodily injury or that puts a child at risk is criminal.
He said that he wanted to make this case a warning to other drivers: “We should all be chastened by this horrific, completely avoidable catastrophe for the Sackett family and put our cell phones away when we are driving.”
Prosecuting A Distracted Driver Is Rare
We handle countless car accidents caused by texting while driving and applaud the DA’s unusual decision. We hope that other district attorneys and police departments follow his lead. Mr. Berenson sat next to the Tarrant County District Attorney at a luncheon honoring police officers that was sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Drivers several months ago and discussed the rampant number of people who text while driving.
We all know how widespread distracted driving is. It seems like every other driver around you is looking down as he drives. So you might think that more people would be at least given tickets for the small $25.00 fines now that texting and driving is against the law to discourage this reckless behavior. However last year, state troopers only cited less than 1,200 drivers in the entire state. And no one to our knowledge has been charged with crimes of this severity.
Why Cracking Down on Cell Phone Use Is a Good Idea
A recent study revealed that even more people use their phones while driving than before the law was passed on September 1, 2017. With a reported 89% of drivers admitting they do this, it’s no wonder that our Texas roads are so dangerous.
Last year, we had over 537,000 collisions that were reported, and over 100,000 were said to have been caused by cell phone use and distracted driving.
Reading or sending a text takes a driver’s eyes off of the road for five seconds on average. At a speed of 55 mph, that means that he or she has driven the length of a football field — blindfolded.
Which Age Group Is the Most Dangerous?
You probably would assume teenagers, and while they are frequent texters and callers while driving, it is their parents or at least their older sisters and brothers. The millennials, who are between the ages of 19 and 35, are statistically our worst drivers. Litwin was 33.
According to a recent survey, almost all millennials admit to texting while driving, speeding, running red lights, and driving while intoxicated. With 75 million of these bad drivers on the roads, no wonder there are so many car accidents. And this is despite drivers education classes, signs on the roads, public service announcements, and the obvious risk.
Let’s hope that news coverage of this horrible event gets the message out about texting while driving: “It can wait.”
We Can Help You
Berenson Injury Law advocates to help the victims of car and truck collisions get justice and the compensation they deserve. Please call us at 1-888-801-8585 or fill out this form if you have any questions.