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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, November 5, 2005

Text-messaging leads to crash

By Loren Moreno
Advertiser Staff Writer

Police and firefighters investigate yesterday’s two-vehicle crash near Sandy Beach. Police said the car crossed the center line as its driver was manipulating his cell phone.

REBECCA BREYER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Jeremy Young, 19, is hugged by Mom, Vernet Young, after his pickup truck was struck by a driver police say was sending a text message.

REBECCA BREYER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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A driver who was text-messaging on his cell phone took his eyes off the road, crossed over into the opposite lane and smashed his car into a truck along Kalaniana'ole Highway yesterday, police said.

The accident resulted in no serious injuries, but Kalaniana'ole Highway was closed in both directions for more than an hour as tow trucks and fire crews cleared the wreckage.

"All you need is your eyes off the road for just one second and you can cause a very serious accident," said Scott Ishikawa, state Department of Transportation spokesman.

He said using a cell phone — and especially text-messaging — is not only visually but also mentally distracting.

The mother of the driver of the pickup arrived on the scene and said the accident should teach everyone a valuable lesson.

"The guy was on his cell phone. That could have cost these kids their lives," said Vernet Young, whose 19-year-old son, Jeremy Young, was driving the truck.

Paramedics bandaged a gash on Jeremy Young's left foot and took an 18-year-old friend who was riding in the bed of the pickup to the hospital with minor injuries, police said. A second passenger who was in the cab of the pickup was uninjured.

The driver of the car was not injured. He was released from the scene by police after his wife came to pick him up, police said. Police said his safety tag was expired and issued him a citation.

It began around 2:30 p.m. yesterday, when a silver pickup truck driven by Young, of Waipahu, was heading toward Waimanalo along Kalaniana'ole Highway. A silver BMW driven by a 52-year-old Kailua man was going the opposite direction.

According to Police Sgt. Patrice Gionson, the driver of the BMW was using his cell phone to text-message his wife. While his eyes were off the road, the car crossed the center line, Gionson said, and "the driver of the truck had nowhere to go."

The BMW smashed the left side of the truck, ripped off its bumper and a headlight and then flipped over, police said.

"I tried to avoid the car, but as it crossed into my lane, it was either get hit or crash into the railing," said Young, who was heading to the beach with two friends when the accident happened.

A bill that would have banned drivers' use of hand-held cell phones was defeated in the Legislature last year. Opponents said there was insufficient evidence that cell-phone use was any more distracting than other activities drivers engage in, such as eating or putting on makeup.

Reach Loren Moreno at lmoreno@honoluluadvertiser.com.