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FHP: Texting and Driving Distracted at 89 MPH Before Crash

A driver involved in a fatal collision that killed a St. Petersburg woman was allegedly sending text messages and driving nearly 90 miles per hour in the seconds leading up to the crash.

Earlier this month, the Leon County Sheriff’s Deputies arrested Ashli Harvey, 27, of Tallahassee on charges of vehicular homicide and possession of drug paraphernalia stemming from a car accident on January 31.

Lavon Reese of St. Petersburg was attempting to cross the intersection of Monroe Street and Talpeco Street in Tallahassee on January 31 in her Volkswagen when a Chevrolet driven by Harvey slammed into her vehicle, according to a wtsp article.  Reese who was a 2009 graduate of Lakewood High School and a senior at Florida State University was pronounced dead at the scene.

In its investigation, the Florida Highway Patrol reviewed the data recorder in Harvey’s vehicle and found she was going 89 mph five seconds before the wreck and 69 mph a split second before the impact, failing to apply brakes until just before the crash.

Troopers also reported the odor of burnt marijuana in Harvey’s car and found skid marks on the road showing she was traveling much faster than the posted 45 mph when the collision occurred.

The patrol said that while Reese erred by pulling out from the stop sign into Harvey’s path, it was Harvey’s speed and reckless driving that caused the fatal crash. The patrol wrote that the collision could have been avoided if Harvey had been travelling within the posted speed limit.

Other motorists told troopers they saw Harvey speeding and driving erratically before the crash, the article reported.

The patrol also alleges that Harvey was texting in the moments leading up to the crash including a message sent one minute before the accident, according to the article.

In addition, Harvey’s driving record turned up three other crashes she caused, and troopers wrote she demonstrated a disregard for the safety of others and herself while driving.

Authorities found a glass smoking pipe and hollowed-out cigarillos used to smoke pot, and a toxicology report showed marijuana in her blood system, according to the article.

The combination of distracted and drugged driving greatly increases the danger of driving. Crashes caused by distracted driving such as texting or talking on cell phones claimed 3,154 lives in 2013.

Any time a driver combines drugs and distractions while driving, the results are likely to be deadly. Drivers who behave with reckless disregard for the safety of others should be held accountable for their actions.

But it’s important to recognize that a criminal conviction will not provide any compensation to the family of the accident victim to help cover medical bills, funeral costs and other expenses. You don’t have to carry the burden of that loss alone.

The family of an accident victim killed by negligence of another driver in Florida has the option to bring a wrongful death lawsuit to hold the driver and their insurance company accountable.

If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a car accident, contact an attorney experienced in handling personal injury and wrongful death claims. You will need someone who knows how to guide you through the legal system to make sure you receive the award you deserve for pain, losses, injuries or mental anguish.

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