Family of woman killed by distracted driver wants to know why he wasn’t arrested
FEDERAL WAY — King County sheriff’s investigators believe distracted driving was the cause of the head-on crash in Kent that killed one woman and sent two others to the hospital.
The driver was not arrested. The family of the woman who died wants to know why not.
“I understand accidents happen. But you have to be accountable for those actions,” Cynthia Benion, the aunt of 25-year-old Sherri “Coco” White, said Tuesday night. “She’s not coming back. She left a son, she left a family.”
Shelly Baldwin is also upset about the accident. For the past few months, she’s been working with the Washington Traffic Safety Commission in Olympia, trying to eliminate deadly accidents by strengthening the state’s distracted driving laws.
“Our goal as a state is zero (distracted driving accidents). That’s the only acceptable goal for your family, for my family, it’s what we all want.”
The current law, which was passed in 2007, only says you cannot hold a phone to your ear or text behind the wheel. But Baldwin says people are doing a lot more with their phones now.
“Observational surveys have shown us at any given time, one of 10 drivers coming at you is interacting with their cell phone.”
More than 100 agencies throughout the state right now are cracking down on distracted driving with the “You text, you drive, you pay” campaign. But they admit it’s not making enough of a difference.
“Twenty-five percent of our collisions are due to distracted driving, mostly cell phone violations,” says Bonney Lake police officer Daron Wolschleger. “It’s very dangerous.”
Baldwin hopes this latest accident will get people to think twice.
“Driving is the most dangerous thing most of us do on a daily basis. We need to be driving when we’re driving. Our cars are not our office, and there’s not a text or email or anything that’s more important than someone’s life. It can wait.”
“People need to take into consideration what they’re doing, whose lives are affected, when they’re negligent.”
She also hopes people will lobby lawmakers and get them to pass the stricter distracted driving law, before the current legislative session ends.
The family has set up a fund to help with funeral costs. To find out more, go to gofund.me/ry8qh4c