Tuesday, December 10, 2013
WEST PARIS — The driver of the Subaru that crashed over the weekend killing two teenagers was swapping texts with people at an underage drinking party where the group was headed when she lost control.
Kristina Lowe, 18, of West Paris, faces charges associated with the crash, though what charges specifically and when they will be lodged depend on the investigation and her condition, said Steve McCausland, spokesman for the state police.
Lowe was at Maine Medical Center in critical condition Sunday but a hospital spokeswoman said this afternoon that no information was being released about her condition.
"We think the texting was going back and forth between the driver and those that were at the party," McCausland said. Police said Lowe and others had been at the party and was returning after picking up Rebecca Mason, 16.
McCausland would not say why police believe Lowe was texting at the time of the accident. Police can consult a cellular telephone's log to determine whether someone had been texting at about the time of a crash and to whom. Police also rely on witness statements and the driver's description of events when available, he said.
"In relationship to this particular fatal crash, it's obviously an essential part of the crash investigation," McCausland said of the texting allegation. Two teens were killed in the crash and a 22-year-old was injured but was able to walk away, police said.
McCausland said he did not know whether police had interviewed the crash survivors, Lowe or Jacob Skaff, 22, of South Paris.
Drivers 21 or older are not allowed to have a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or more, but drivers under 21 are not allowed to have any alcohol in their system. A law that took affect in September also makes it illegal to be texting while driving.
"There have been no charges filed but there will be," he said. "That decision on charges will be made after the district attorney reviews the case. Troopers tell me they have additional interviews to do."
Charges could range from driving while texting and drunk driving up to manslaughter. The latter is when a person "recklessly, or with criminal negligence, causes the death of another human being," according to state law.
"The bottom line is there was drinking involved on the part of an 18-year-old driver who was texting which caused the death of two teenagers," McCausland said. He said the case should serve as a powerful lesson about the dangers of texting while driving.