comscore Grand jury charges driver who said she was texting before fatal crash | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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Grand jury charges driver who said she was texting before fatal crash

  • STAR-ADVERTISER / APRIL 2015

    The scene of a fatal one car-accident on Hihimanu Street in Waiamanalo.

  • COURTESY ST. FRANCIS SCHOOL

    Jessica Lum was a 2013 graduate from St. Francis School.

A 21-year-old woman who admitted she was texting just before her car hit a utility pole, has been indicted for negligent homicide.

Chanel Franco will be arraigned in Circuit Court Thursday.

An Oahu grand jury indicted Franco on March 23. Her bail was set at $11,000.

According to police, Franco was driving a silver 2003 Honda Civic southeast on Hihimanu Street on April 15 when she lost control of her car, which veered off the road and hit a utility pole

Two witnesses said the driver told them after the fatal accident that she blamed herself because she had been texting and reaching down for something just before the accident. When she looked up, a van was coming straight at her, so she swerved to avoid it.

Passenger Jessica Lum may have been thrown by the impact out the back door, which had ripped off during the crash, witnesses told the Star-Advertiser last year.

The driver and another passenger were taken to the Queen’s Medical Center in serious condition.

Lum died at the scene of the crash near Waimanalo District Park.

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    • Do you think they are focusing on pakalolo because there are already laws on the books to fine you for texting and driving, and if you kill someone while doing so you get the hit with the negligent homicide charge?

    • It’s well known that the level of impairment when driving while texting or carrying on a cell phone conversation (whether hands-free or not) is comparable to driving with a blood alcohol level of at least .06. Many, many people are unable to multitask well when behind the wheel. Their eyes may see something on the road that their brains just don’t register. Trust me, I know. I was nearly run off of Likelike Highway a couple of weeks ago in broad daylight by a possible cell phone user. A loooong blast from my horn finally got his/her attention as my wheels hit the shoulder of the road.

      • Agreed. I see this idiotic behavior daily on our streets. Whether it’s someone driving 25 mph in a 35- 45 mph zone, running red lights, running stop signs (especially rolling through on a right turn), or failing to signal lane changes and turns (because they can’t steer with one hand and hold their phone with the other to actuate their turn signals), it’s out of control. Let’s face it; some people just cannot walk and chew gum at the same time. How much more carnage is needed before people start to get the message?

  • The never going to happen to me syndrome, plus am infallible! I drive very fast but that’s all I do, drive! Own the cheapest cell phone not a smart-phone and use it only in emergencies.

    • I have never got into the habit of using my cell phone while driving. I estimate like 25 years. Infact, I turn my cell phone-off when leaving home by car to make sure I’m never distracted by my cell phone ringing.
      Still, I see people still talking on their cell phones while driving and obviously there are still those drivers who don’t take it seriously.

      • Thank you for taking your driving responsibilities seriously. For many people, that is the LAST thing on their minds when they are behind the wheel.

    • Not to say she should be excused or get away with it, but it’s the immediate minutes after a traumatic incident such as a serious auto accident or defensive shooting situation where your constitutional right to keep your mouth shut becomes vitally important. (I frankly doubt, given the typical half-life of stories on the web, that anyone will read this, but what the heck, it’s my playtime right now.) Anyway, your average citizen is in no way able to anticipate all the legal ramifications of what he or she says in the immediate aftermath of a sudden life-and-death event. Of course I’m not at all saying you should remain mute when approached or questioned by police, other first responders or any witnesses at the scene. Say as much as you need to in order to secure the safety of yourself and others. Tell them in simple terms what occurred and how you happened to be involved but for heaven’s sake don’t prattle on about motivations or make excuses or outright apologies at this time. Consider that you could be experiencing the onset of shock and that you are probably not going to be at your best recalling every important detail or expressing accurately how long events actually took. It’s also never a good idea to express yourself to first responders and witnesses using foul language, racial epithets or four-letter words. That’s especially true after a defensive shooting. A competent lawyer should be able to minimize if not eliminate the damage should your gutter-mouth statements to police and any witnesses be used against you at trial, but why take the chance? Above all, keep in mind that the police are not your friend; maybe they aren’t gleefully hoping you’ll incriminate yourself, but it certainly won’t hurt their careers if you do. As has been demonstrated both locally and on the mainland by current events, you won’t be the beneficiary of any “special considerations” unless you happen to be one of them.

  • It took the prosecutor’s office eleven months to present the case to the grand jury? I wonder why Hawaii still even uses the grand jury system. It’s slow and antiquated. Justice delayed is justice denied.

    • wasn’t the grand jury that caused the perceived delay. it was the investigation itself. vehicle has to be inspected for any defects in its operating systems, phone records subpoenaed and activity compared to time line of collision, blood analysis of driver, cause of death for passenger, statements of witnesses, analysis of scene, roadway conditions. all of this takes time to make sure the data is accurate and as complete as possible.

      more often it’s justice rushed that is justice denied.

  • One of the few times where someone in a accident actually admitted they were texting. Most drivers won’t admit that because they know they will be nailed if they got caught.

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