July 25, 2019
On June 18, 2019, Mr. Daniel Scott Wessel, while working as a flagger for Rocky Mountain Construction, was struck and killed by a motor vehicle driven by Zahra Gonzales. This crash was investigated by the Oregon State Police. Detective Tom Andreazzi and Trooper Justin Henrick, along with other OSP personnel, documented not only the crash itself, but the events leading up to this tragic death.
Upon receiving the completed investigation, the Klamath County District Attorney charged Ms. Gonzales with Manslaughter I, Manslaughter II, Criminally Negligent Homicide, Reckless Driving and Reckless Endangering. The investigation confirmed high speed and constant cell phone usage by Ms. Gonzales while approaching this well-marked construction area.
We all share the roads in Klamath County. We share it with other motorists, cyclists, pedestrians and highway workers doing their best to improve our roads. As Klamath County District Attorney, I caution all drivers, in this busy summer season, and at all times of the year, to not engage in any behavior that distracts from driving safely.
The law clearly states no one is ever allowed to text and drive. Department of Transportation studies show during the average time of a text message, a car traveling 55 miles per hour covers more than the length of a football field.
While cellular phones are a wonderful convenience, they simply have no place being used while driving a car. So, while those of us responsible for enforcing public safety implore you not to use cell phones while driving, we will also zealously prosecute offenders who violate these laws, putting all of our friends and families at risk.