Texting Mom Accused Of Causing Head-On Crash

By John Lauritsen, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — An Eden Prairie mother is accused of texting and talking on her cell phone, with her two kids in the car, and causing a crash where she hit a motorcyclist head-on.

Amanda Elizabeth Manzanares, 20, faces six charges including criminal vehicular operation, endangerment of a child and driving without a valid license.

According to the criminal complaint, police were dispatched around 8 a.m. to the scene of a car accident involving a motorcycle and a vehicle on Oct. 7, 2010 at Excelsior Boulevard in Minnetonka.

Upon arrival, police found a motorcycle with extensive damage and the driver of the motorcycle seriously injured. The driver of the vehicle, identified as Manzanares, was stopped in the oncoming lane of traffic with her two kids — ages 1 and 3 — in the back seat of her car.

In an interview with the motorcyclist, he told police he was driving east on Excelsior when he saw a vehicle, driving west, cross the center lane, headed straight towards him. He said Manzanares’ head was down and he could only see the top of her head as she was driving.

“If you would have seen me two months ago, you couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t get out of here,” said Barry Lawrence, the motorcyclist that was hit. “Six broken ribs, collapsed lung, my heart went kaflooey. I never had heart problems before.”

An investigation revealed Manzanares’ cell phone had received and sent 13 text messages from 7:39 a.m. to 7:58 a.m. on the morning of the crash, from two different individuals. Calls from that cell phone were also made at 8:02 a.m. and 8:04 a.m.

Manzanares told police she “blacked out” and could not remember what happened at the time of the accident but said she was not on her cell phone. According to the complaint, she said she heard the phone vibrating on the floor but couldn’t reach it.

She told police she may have “blacked out” because she did not take her prescribed medication that morning and was very tired. She also admitted that she did not have a valid driver’s license and was driving her mother’s vehicle that she knew was not insured.

Manzanares’ mother said that medication her daughter was taking caused her to black out. But phone records obtained by police show she had been texting just before the accident.

“It can save your life or kill you. Just like a gun,” said Jon Cummings, an advocate for safe driving whose son was killed by a drunk driver.

Cummings said texting while driving is no different.

“For what reason? Why? Just stupid convenience? You make a mistake and you ruin a family’s life,” said Cummings, who is the founder of Minnesotans for Safe Driving.

Lawrence agrees, but says he feels bad for Manzanares because she is young and made a mistake.

“I feel sorry for her. It was a stupid decision to make. Even though I know she didn’t mean it. A lot of people make mistakes when they are young,” he said.

Lawrence said he has had two surgeries on his foot and has nearly a half million dollars in medical expenses — but he could make a full recovery.

In this case, because there was a serious injury, Manzanares is facing a felony charge along with child endangerment charges because her daughters were in the back seat of her car.

It became illegal to text and drive in Minnesota on Aug. 1, 2008.

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Susie Jones Reports

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