Two teenagers were killed a few weeks ago in an accident that involved distracted driving, prescription medications and a speeding patrol car.
On Thursday, June 30, two teenage girls in a Pontiac Grand Am had stopped at a stop sign at the intersection of Jacksboro Highway and Holliday Road around 9:30 in the evening. As the Grand Am pulled out onto the highway, it was t-boned by a Wichita Falls Police patrol car. When emergency personnel appeared on the scene they found the Grand Am on its side and a patrol car with heavy front-end damage.
The two girls, who were cousins, were transported to the hospital, but both died from their injuries. It was later found out that the 18 year old was pregnant at the time of the accident. The Wichita Falls police officer was also taken to United Regional Hospital where he was released after being treated for head and arm injuries.
It was later discovered that no one involved in the fatal car accident was wearing a seat belt, but the air bags in both cars were deployed.
In the week following the accident, a reconstruction team from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) recreated the accident. The resulting DPS report suggested that the officer was driving at least 80mph an hour when the accident occurred and that he did not “take evasive action when a reasonable person would have” — and he had not been responding to a call at the time of the accident.
The DPS report also noted that the officer had taken two different kinds of prescription medicine earlier that day, suggesting that perhaps that affected or impaired the officer’s driving. The report also indicated that both drivers may have been distracted at the time of the accident and there was evidence that the 18-year-old girl may have been using a cell phone.
It may take up to six months to complete the investigation and for the district attorney to process. It is unknown whether the families of the two teenage girls will file a civil wrongful death lawsuit against the police department.
Source: Houston Chronicle, “Officer driving at least 80 at the time of accident,” 7/14/11.