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Pierce County woman admits to checking Facebook just before deadly crash on I-5

The woman has been charged with vehicular homicide. The deadly tragedy highlights the dangers of distracted driving.

TACOMA, Wash. — A Pierce County woman has been charged with vehicular homicide after she admitted to using social media while driving and hit a man changing a flat tire on Interstate 5. 

On May 10, Karly Cecil was driving on I-5 while checking her Facebook and struck 78-year-old Kyang Park, who was changing his tire along the side of the road. Park died at the scene from his injuries, according to officials. 

Cecil was arrested and has now been charged, but she was released on bail Tuesday after her court appearance.

The tragic event highlights what’s at stake when drivers aren’t paying attention, and how quickly everything can change.

"It could be two to three seconds for someone to realize that they’ve stopped in front of them," said Sgt. Darren Moss Jr. of the Pierce County Sheriff's Department. "Now if you’re on a freeway and someone comes to a complete stop, it’s going to take you two to three seconds to see that, going 70 miles an hour, how far down the road are you getting in those 2-3 seconds?"

Those seconds are even more critical now that people are driving faster.

"With fewer cars on the road, that’s led to a 20% increase in vehicle speed, even during rush hour," said Bob Pishue, a transportation analyst for INRIX, "Which makes any accident or collision that much more impactful."

Pishue said there are public messaging and even laws designed to encourage people to stay focused while they’re driving, along with some technologies being put forward to reduce distractions, such as navigation systems that only work by voice. 

But with all these different approaches, the message is the same: stay focused when you’re behind the wheel, because lives could literally be on the line.

"We’re all guilty of it, looking down at our cell phones and things that’re relatively unimportant in the grand picture," said Bryan Hershman, who’s representing Cecil in court. "It’s a staunch reminder of what not to do."

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