Friday, July 31, 2009

NY Tow Truck Driver Was Texting, Talking Before Crash

Sure, we're all busy, but texting on one phone while talking on another phone while driving is just an accident begging to happen. Here's another story on the Wednesday accident in NY from the Niagara Gazette:
A woman and child were taken to Buffalo-area hospitals wtih serious injuries Wednesday morning after a flatbed tow truck crashed into their car and careened into an in-ground pool on Tonawanda Creek Road.

Rapids Fire Chief Barry Kobrin said a man identified as Nicholas Sparks, driving a tow truck for Adams Towing, was traveling east on Tonawanda Creek Road about 8 a.m. and was apparently talking on his cell phone and possibly sending a text message on another phone as he approached the intersection with Willow Wood Drive. A car was stopped there and waiting to turn left.

The tow truck driver reportedly struck the back of the car, causing it to spin around and land in a ditch. The tow truck continued on, swerving off to the north side of the road and crashing through a backyard fence.

One of the cars it was towing flew off and struck the house at 6369 Tonawanda Creek Road, crushing the air conditioner and gas main, Kobrin said.

“It took out three or four sections of fence, and there’s some structural damage to the house,” Kobrin said.

One of the motorcycles being towed flew off the truck as well, landing underneath the car on the lawn. The tow truck ended up with its front end in the home’s in-ground pool.

Inside the house, the homeowner, who asked not to be named, said it sounded “like a bomb went off.”

He said he was upstairs with his two 5-year-old daughters at the time of the crash. When he looked outside and saw the devastation, he said one thought went through his mind: “I was thankful (the girls) weren’t swimming.”

Sheriff’s Capt. Bruce Elliot said the tow truck driver was talking on the phone when the accident occurred, and he may have been sending text messages on a separate phone.

“There’s some indication that he might have been texting on a second phone, a personal phone, and taking a business call on a business phone,” Elliot said. “Right now we took possession of the phones, and we’re going to do a search warrant and download records from both phones.”

The driver “didn’t even apply the brakes” before striking the car at the intersection, he said.

That car sustained extensive damage. The woman who was driving was transported to Erie County Medical Center by Mercy Flight for treatment of serious injuries, Kobrin said.

An 8-year-old girl in the back seat, identified as the driver’s great-niece, was transported to Women and Children’s Hospital for treatment of her injuries, including whiplash.

The owner of the home said he ran to the car after the accident and tried to help the woman and the child out of the car.

“I tried to get down there, and we were trying to get them out of the car,” he said. “The lady was holding her head.”

Kobrin said the child was especially lucky to escape without serious injury.

“Somebody was watching over her,” he said, pointing to the car, which was crushed almost beyond recognition in the back end. “Look at that car.”

Elliot said for now the tow truck driver will be charged with reckless endangerment, reckless driving, following too closely and use of a cell phone while driving.

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