Society

Iowa Cop Warns About Texting While Driving After Teen Is Seriously Injured In Car Crash

| by Reve Fisher
James Boatright's car after crashJames Boatright's car after crash

A teenager from Des Moines, Iowa, is in critical condition after a car crash that was reportedly caused by texting while driving.

Sgt. Dan Charleston of the Polk County's Sheriff's Office was off duty when he drove by an accident in which a blue Chevy Cavalier had been T-boned by a pickup truck on Oct. 5, 13 Who reports.

"I got out and could see that he was trapped in there on the driver's side of the vehicle and there was a lot of smoke inside which is consistent with the airbag deployment," Charleston told 13 WHO, recalling how he needed to force his way inside the vehicle. "I got into the passenger side door and looked at him and he had some head trauma on the left side and he was clearly unconscious and had a lot of blood on his face."

Charleston added that he saw "what appeared to be a cellphone with a text page open on his lap," with a half-written message.

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In March, a house subcommittee passed legislation that would allow Iowa police officers to pull over drivers suspected of texting, according to The Des Moines Register. Previously, drivers in Iowa could only be fined for texting if they were pulled over for another reason.

Some politicians believed the bill didn't go far enough.

"I think we need to move to a full hands-free type situation," Republican Rep. Gary Worthan of Storm Lake told The Des Moines Register at the time. "I'm disappointed that this bill isn't stronger. This is the bill that we can pass this year. If, as we move it into full transportation, we can strengthen it, I'm going to be more than happy to do that."

In an Iowa Poll, 85 percent of those surveyed supported the harsher texting law.

According to police reports cited by 13 WHO, James Boatright, 16, the teen driver involved in the crash, pulled into oncoming traffic. Charleston believes Boatright had been texting and driving, and that accidents like this are completely preventable.

"You do it so much that you think nothing's gonna happen," Charleston said.

Boatright is in critical condition at Mercy Hospital in Des Moines.

"When I'm working on him inside the car what appeared to be his mom screaming over my shoulder, concerned with her son," Charleston said. "That sticks with you. And no text is worth hearing screams of a mother literally wanting to know if her son's going to live or die."

Sources: 13 WHO, The Des Moines Register / Photo credit: UberTopic, Intel Free Press/Flickr