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Natarus Gets to Say 'I Told You So'

By Shannon in News on Oct 7, 2006 5:51PM

We all know cell phones and driving go together like nitro and glycerin. That's why Chicago enacted the infamous (some would say useless) cell phone driving ban. "Yeah, big deal, I see 20 people yammering away on cells in their cars every day," you say. And it may not be that big a deal, since so many other things can distract drivers besides phones. Since the ordinance went into effect, no fatalities have occurred as a result of hands-on phone usage while in the car. That is, until now. A man was killed and two family members seriously injured when another driver reached for his cell phone, causing a crash on the Dan Ryan Thursday morning.

Guadalupe Gonzalez and his wife, Raquel, flew into O'Hare from Mexico late Wednesday night. They were joined by their daughter Juana, her infant daughter, and Luis Lopez, another relative that ended up driving the family unit down to Harvey via the Dan Ryan. Around 63rd Street, an SUV in front of the Gonzalezes swerved and hit the median, bouncing back into traffic. Their car hit the SUV broadside, forcing it up onto their own car. Guadalupe was killed; his wife sustained severe injuries and doctors say she has a 50-50 chance of survival. The daughter, Juana, suffered several broken bones and a possible back injury. No word on the infant or the driver.

The driver of the SUV, Joseph Burks, admitted later to reaching for his cell phone while driving. Police at the scene charged him with violating the cell phone ban and improper lane usage, which together max out at a fine of $250. Considering that, you know, a man was killed and several other people injured, not to mention that Burks has had his licensed suspended in the past, one would think a steeper penalty might be levied. Gonzalez's son holds no ill will towards Burks, as long as it truly was an accident. We're not sure we'd be so gracious in his place, since this is an accident that definitely could have been avoided.

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