A Wisconsin woman was driving and chatting on Facebook just before a car accident that killed her daughter and two nieces, police said recently.
The Star Tribune of Minneapolis reports 34-year-old Kari Milberg now faces three counts of homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle for the December car crash. Milberg is also charged with one count of reckless driving. She was 32 at the time of the accident.
Police say cell phone records indicate the woman was active on Facebook and sending messages until two minutes before the crash. Authorities reportedly believe that distraction from driving was a significant cause of the crash.
KARE News reported that Milberg was driving one of her nieces back to her sister’s house when her SUV spun out of control and into on coming traffic. A large, commercial box truck slammed into the rear of the vehicle.
Milberg, who was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected from the vehicle.
Her 11-year-old daughter, Lydia, was killed on impact.
Two of Milberg’s nieces — both of them 5 years old — were taken to area hospitals but later died of their injuries.
Milberg recovered from her injuries as did her 3-year-old son, Easton.
Mike Pavek is married to Milberg’s sister, Katy Pavek, and the father of one of the 5-year-olds killed in the accident. He told KARE the family was devastated by the accident.
The other 5-year-old killed was the daughter of Milberg’s other sister, Kassi Amos.
“My mother-in-law has lost three grandchildren. The loss I've incurred is one thing, but the loss that my wife and sisters-in-law is immense and it's still ongoing,” he said at the time.
According to the Star Tribune, police found two cellphones in the totaled SUV. A third was later found near the accident site after snow melted. Police records indicate that an undamaged iPhone, which belonged to Milberg, showed a Facebook chat session had been in progress until 3:39 p.m., which police said was just two minutes before the crash.
A blood report from a sample taken from Milberg showed she had therapeutic levels of oxycodone and the sedative midazolam in her system at the time of the crash.
The Wisconsin State Patrol said in its collision analysis that distraction was the likely cause of the accident.
“Driver distraction may explain why Milberg deviated from her southbound lane of travel to the outside shoulder before losing control,” the report said.
The report also noted that Milberg’s tires were significantly worn and were probably not properly channeling moisture that might have been present on the road.