A Minnesota teen driver was text messaging on Facebook just minutes before she hit and killed a father and his 10-year-old daughter after running a red light, police say. Before the fatal accident, the teen allegedly told a passenger in her car that she "didn't care if she crashed."
A police investigation found that 17-year-old Carlee R. Bollig was using her smartphone to chat on Facebook, exchanging "multiple electronic messages" for eight minutes leading up to the July 21 crash while she was behind the wheel, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
A more in-depth forensic analysis showed Bollig was posting to Facebook "just seconds" before she rammed into the minivan, according to CBS Minnesota.
Bollig's friend, 17-year-old, Caysi J. Jaronske, was one of the passengers in the car at the time of the crash, and she told police that she begged her friend to stop texting while she was driving the pickup truck, but Bollig refused, the Tribune noted. Bollig allegedly told Jaronske that she didn't care if she caused an accident and eventually snapping at her friend, telling her to "--- off."
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As Bollig approached an intersection with her face still buried in her smartphone, her three passengers gave her a final warning, yelling "Red light! Red light!" But Bollig never applied her brakes, police determined, and she drove through the intersection, striking the driver's side of the minivan.
Charles P. Maurer, 54, was driving the van, with his 10-year-old daughter Cassy, 16-year-old daughter Alenita, and Alenita's 15-year-old friend Alora K. Nelson, as passengers.
Alenita and Alora survived, but Charles and Cassy were rushed to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, Minnesota, with grave injuries. Charles Maurer died later that night, while Cassy died 10 days later of severe head injuries.
After the crash, Bollig schemed to lie her way out of the situation, police said.
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She reportedly convinced one of her passengers, 18-year-old George E. Saldana, to lie on her behalf blame the crash on Bollig's boyfriend, Deven M. Garlock, 18, because he was the only one in the pickup with a valid driver's license.
Inside the pickup was a bag belonging to Bollig, which contained synthetic marijuana, a pipe and a digital scale, according to court documents. A second pipe was found on the front passenger seat, although authorities have not accused Bollig of being under the influence of any substance during the crash.
Regardless, police said that texting while driving is a distraction that can be just as deadly as driving drunk or high.
“What a senseless behavior that caused all of this trauma to this family, using a phone while operating a motor vehicle, 3,000 pounds of mass through an intersection, tearing this family apart,” Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Tiffany Schweigart told CBS Minnesota.
It was after they tested blood from inside the crashed pickup that investigators discovered Bollig had lied to them, and that she had been the one behind the wheel, not her boyfriend.
In October, Bollig was charged with two counts each of criminal vehicular homicide and criminal vehicular operation, texting and driving, and driving without a valid license, authorities said.
Nationally, 3,154 people were killed by distracted drivers in 2013, and more than 424,000 people were injured in crashes caused by driver inattention, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.