DOVER, N.H. — The woman behind the wheel of the vehicle that struck three children on Portland Avenue as they crossed the road to their bus stop Jan. 10 will have violation level charges brought against her in Dover Circuit Court next month.
Tina Conlon, 35, of 15 Spruce Street, Somersworth, is being charged with negligent driving and failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk after driving her 2003 Honda Element in the path of three Dover schoolchildren ages 10, 14, and 16 just before 7 a.m. that morning, striking them with the vehicle and sending all three to Wentworth-Douglass Hospital with serious non-life threatening injuries.
The three youths were in the crosswalk on Portland Avenue at the Rogers Street intersection when Conlon, who was allegedly distracted by messaging on her cell phone and using the vehicle’s radio at the time, collided with them in the roadway.
The charge of negligent driving alleges Conlon operated her vehicle in a manner that was likely to endanger others by diverting her attention from the roadway.
“When you’re driving a car, put the attention on the road, not your cell phone,” Capt. Bill Breault said.
He said distracted driving by something like texting is something that is likely under reported and is also not an easy thing to prove.
“We respond to a lot of collisions where we suspect it,” he said.
In certain investigations, like this one, additional steps are taken and a forensic analysis is done on the phone. Breault said police essentially ruled out everything else and have reason to believe this is what happened.
The Dover Police Crime Unit and Accident Reconstruction team were at the scene for hours after the crash piecing together exactly what led to the collision. The weeks-long investigation determined that speed, lighting conditions, road conditions and mechanical defect were not factors in the crash, elements that are taken into consideration in the event of any accident, according to Breault.
In this case, Breault said, had Conlon been paying attention to the road, the accident could have been completely avoided.
“Even the radio can distract you,” Breault said. “It only takes a split second to become distracted.”
Since the charges are of violation level, he said there is no jail time associated with them. There is a $59 fine for failing to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk. For a first negligent driving offense, which requires a defendant to appear before a judge in court, a fine of $250-$500 will be set by the court. That amount increases to $500-$5,000 for a second offense.
Conlon will be arraigned on Feb. 27 at Dover Circuit Court.
© 2012 the Foster’s Daily Democrat
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