Four Manteca teens were hit by a car early Saturday morning, killing one – 14-year-old Zach Gomez.
Investigators say the driver, 19-year-old Mia Sara Aguiar, was distracted by her cell phone. However, the CHP says Aguiar wasn’t actually using her phone when she lost control on Yosemite Avenue.
“The most dangerous thing is reaching over to pick something up,” Chris Cochran, of the Office of Traffic Safety, said. “Your eyes are off the road.”
An accident caused by either talking on your phone or texting with your phone can be a felony – but an accident caused by simply reaching for your phone is a misdemeanor, which would only result in up to a year in county jail.
Reaching for a phone while driving is something Attorney Donald Harper says we all do, and we allow our eyes to be taken off the road.
“The act is a negligent act of reaching for the phone,” Harper told FOX40. “You’re driving a vehicle. A vehicle is like a weapon.”
Even without causing an accident, drivers using a phone while on the road can face a fine of $161.
According to the Office of Traffic Safety, drivers using cell phones cause hundreds of deaths across the country every year.
Aguiar is being held on $100,000. She is being charged with felony vehicular manslaughter and misdemeanor gross negligence.
Ian McDonald contributed to this report.