CANFIELD, Ohio (WYTV) – It may be another week before accident reports are complete but troopers with the Ohio State Highway Patrol say they’ll be talking to prosecutors about Sunday’s two deadly crashes.
“We will be filing charges of some sort but exactly what charges will be up to the prosecutor,” Lt. Jerad Sutton said.
Within an hour of each other, troopers responded to accidents on Mahoning Avenue in North Jackson and Market Street Extension in North Lima on Sunday afternoon.
In the first, they said a 17-year-old lost control of his Jeep, veered off the road, and hit 65-year-old Thomas Smith, of Warren, who was pushing his out-of-gas motorcycle on the berm.
In the other, a 16-year-old lost control of his SUV, jumped the curb, and collided with a Jeep driven by Michael Helon, of Poland, which was sitting in a driveway off the road.
Troopers say in both cases, the young drivers were not paying attention.
“Whether that inattention being they’re looking at the radio, focused on something else on their cell phone,” Sutton said.
Although neither of the teenagers is being identified, investigators confirm they seized the cell phone belonging to the one in the North Lima crash.
“Crash stats continue to go up, showing that distraction is a factor in more and more crashes every year,” Sutton said.
He recently put together a map of Northeast Ohio, showing trouble spots for distracted driving crashes. The areas in red are the worst and one of them is right in the heart of Mahoning County.
Sutton blames the problem on drivers trying to multitask.
“Cars are smarter than they ever were before. So you have all these safety features put into the car to prevent people from using a device while they’re driving but people just aren’t taking advantage of them,” he said.
In these cases, Sutton said it was a recipe for disaster.
“There’s plenty of places you can multitask. Sitting on your couch, behind your desk at work — those are the times to multitask. Behind the wheel of a car is not the time to multitask.”