Police: Driver slams into parked car while trying to unlock cellphone

The scene of a crash on 200 East in St. George, Utah, Sept. 24, 2018 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — One person sustained a head injury in downtown St. George Monday evening after a driver hit a parked car while police say he was distracted by his cellphone.

Emergency personnel respond to the scene of a crash on 200 East in St. George, Utah, Sept. 24, 2018 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

St. George Police responded to the crash at 7:19 p.m. involving a white passenger car with four occupants hitting an unoccupied black passenger car parked on the east side of 200 East in front of a home at approximately 250 South.

“He (the driver of the white car) rounded the corner here on 300 South and started going north on 200 East,” St. George Police officer Jace Hutchings told St. George News at the scene. “As he rounds the corner, he looks down at his phone intending to send a text message to his friend.”

The phone was passcode locked at the time, requiring the driver to type in the code, Hutchings said, at which point he took his eyes off the road.

“At that time, he drifts off the roadway and smashes into the parked car,” Hutchings said, describing the moment of collision.

The front seat passenger’s head hit the windshield, causing the glass to shatter in a circular shape at the point of impact.

The passenger was reportedly bleeding and was checked out by responding medical personnel from St. George Fire Department at the scene. He did not require transport to the hospital, and Hutchings said there were no visible injuries on the driver and the two backseat passengers.

The scene of a crash on 200 East in St. George, Utah, Sept. 24, 2018 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

“He will receive citation for texting while driving, distracted driving and unsafe lane travel,” Hutchings said of the driver.

Both cars sustained heavy damage and had to be towed away. Emergency personnel from St. George Fire Department helped clean up fluids that leaked from the white car onto the asphalt and into the gutter.

Hutchings said the crash is a good reminder of the risks associated with using handheld devices while driving.

“The driver put it best. He said, ‘I should have pulled over to figure if I’ve got to make a phone call or text message,’” Hutchings said.

“I would suggest that everybody educate themselves on the handheld communication device laws in Utah,” Hutchings said. “A lot of people think it’s just texting but it also falls under placing a phone call.

“People don’t realize how significant it is – we’ve got kids crossing the road, parked cars – and you’re drifting. It’s a lot more dangerous than I think people realize.”

This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement and may not contain the full scope of findings.

Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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9 Comments

  • mshaw September 25, 2018 at 12:57 am

    Do you think it knocked some sense into him?

  • LocalTourist September 25, 2018 at 10:02 am

    How about some other citations in order to teach the people in the car some common sense?

    If the passenger hit the windshield, he wasn’t wearing a seat belt.

    And why the people in the car didnt say something, when they all know texting and driving is against the law…?

    While we’re at it, give him a ticket for no front license plate. I hate that law, but if it’s on the books, ……

    No one was injured severely, so it’s a good time to use this as a teaching moment.

  • DRT September 25, 2018 at 10:30 am

    Perhaps the passengers who were in the car with this idiot will “help in educating him.”

  • Carpe Diem September 25, 2018 at 10:40 am

    Seems like there should be enhanced fines for damage / injuries caused while texting. Seems like this is a pretty lame infraction.

  • LunchboxHero September 25, 2018 at 3:38 pm

    A “citation”. Yeah, that’ll teach him!

  • tazzman September 25, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    More slaps on the wrist from STGPD.

    • mesaman September 25, 2018 at 8:07 pm

      Wrong Tazzie! SGPG doesn’t do the slapping. Blame the magistrate or the judge. And if the fine is too small, contact your local politician. That ought to solve the problem, right? Okay so it won’t.

  • Kilroywashere September 25, 2018 at 5:44 pm

    Let’s not forget driving while using a handheld cellphone is a violation of Utah State law. The fine for texting is a lot higher. Now, next time you are out driving around town take note how many people are violating the law and driving distracted using their cellphone in an illegal manner. (Note bluetooth hands free devices are legal) There are studies that show driving while using a cellphone is comparable to driving under the influence of alcohol. As a secondary offense it cannot be realistically enforced. We have had fatalities from distracted driving in this town. (One not to long ago) Personally I was rear ended on Bluff St this year by a distracted idiot who also fled the scene. So keep in mind when driving around Washington County, by default you are surrounded by drunk drivers. You can thank your local Utah State Legislator for allowing this to exist. I sent him a correspondence a while back and got no response. Guess he’s ok with it. Note Rep Stewart, at the Federal level did respond and stated it was up to the local State Legislator. Like our local State rep gives a damn. How much you want to bet he uses his cellphone while driving.

    • redrock4 September 27, 2018 at 3:10 pm

      It’s not the fault of legislatures when people fail to curb their pathetic addiction to devices. So mind your own business and stop staring at your phone. Also drive defensively.

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