Whitney Yaeger took her eyes off the road to read a text on her cell phone. In 2010, near Youngstown, Ohio, Dave Muslovski, 55, was walking his normal nine miles in the morning.
Muslovski had set a fitness goal for himself. He wanted to lose 100 pounds so he began walking 18 miles, nine in the morning and nine in the evening.
Not only did he meet his goal, he exceeded it. Muslovski lost 165 pounds on his walking schedule.
On that tragic day, dressed in the reflective clothing that he wore every time he walked, Muslovski was struck by the car Yaeger was driving. Muslovski was transported by ambulance to the area hospital but died from the injuries he sustained when he was hit by Yaeger’s car.
Yaeger was 19 at the time of the accident and was charged with vehicular homicide. Yaeger was sentenced to 45 days in jail, three years of probation and 200 hours of community service.
Her community service requires her to speak to young drivers about the events from that day. When word of the light sentence she received got out, it outraged the community. Most of the people who commented on her sentence believe Yaeger received a slap on the wrist and should have received a stronger sentence considering she took a life.
Muslovski’s daughter, Tina Yanssens spoke with NBC News and stated that the family found out a week later that Muslovski was killed because Yaeger was texting and driving. Unfortunately, texting and driving in the state of Ohio was not illegal at the time of the accident.
Yanssens stated, “We got a phone call from the local media, wanting our response to the fact that the young girl just admitted that she was texting and driving. And quite frankly, we hadn’t known up to that point. We just assumed that it was a standard traffic accident.”
The family of Dave Muslovski was devastated by the light sentence Yaeger received. In response they began lobbying Ohio to make texting while driving illegal.
They were successful and the new law took effect in August 2012. Texting while driving is now illegal in 39 of the 50 states.
An advocate for texting and driving laws, Jennifer Smith stated, “People are getting a slap on the wrist for this. And who knows how many cases we don’t even know about because people aren’t admitting it and we’re not checking the cell phone records.”
“In drunk driving cases you see normal sentences anywhere from two to 15 years and up. With texting and driving, you can see virtually no punishment, to a few days in jail, up to 30 days. And in a few cases there’s been one, two years.”
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