Serious Charges for Teen Accused of Texting in Fatal Accident

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A sixteen-year-old girl was charged Thursday with manslaughter, assault, and texting while driving for a September 2011 crash that killed a woman.

Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd says Rachel N. Gannon was texting on her cell phone when she lost control of her car and collided with Loretta Larimer.  A ten-year-old girl riding in the back of Larimer's car was injured.

The accident happened Sept 26, 2011, on N.W. Skyview Road at about 3:00 p.m.

Prosecutors say Gannon was looking at her cell phone and texting when she ran off the side of the road. When she steered back onto the road, she swerved into the opposite, oncoming lane, according to the accident report.

“Research shows texting while driving is as dangerous as driving while drunk,” Zahnd said. “It should be illegal for anyone of any age to text while they drive.”

Gannon is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the second degree, third degree assault, and texting while driving.  If convicted of the manslaughter charge, Gannon faces up to four years in prison.  On Monday, Gannon was certified to stand trial as an adult and faces up to one year in jail on the assault charge and a $200 fine if convicted of texting while driving.

Under Missouri law, texting while driving is only a crime for drivers under age 21.  Zahnd said he believed the Missouri legislature should prohibit texting while driving for all drivers, regardless of age.

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