A 23 year-old driver couldn’t see the stop sign because he had been reading text messages while driving at up to 60 mph. The Wisconsin man’s careless mistake led to a fatal car accident in 2010 that claimed the life of a 32-year-old man.

The reckless homicide charge against the defendant was initially a first-degree offense, punishable by a prison term of up to 60 years. The driver also faced an additional six-year term for the car accident because he had been found guilty of another felony, a 2009 burglary conviction.

A no contest plea was entered last month to a lower charge of second-degree reckless homicide. The Class D felony carries a reduced, maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. Sentencing is scheduled for November.

Wood County accident reports say three cars were involved in the fatal crash in early Dec. 2010. The defendant’s vehicle was speeding along Highway 73 in Saratoga, weaving slightly as it approached an intersection, apparently because the defendant was reading texts while driving.

When the vehicle failed to stop at the posted sign, it was struck by a second car in cross traffic and pushed across the intersection into a stopped vehicle. The woman in the second car survived. The driver in the third vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene.

The crash victim’s family may feel justice has been served on the day the defendant is sentenced for his crime. A civil trial on wrongful death charges could also provide economic relief for the expenses and pain and suffering the victims’ relatives suffered.

The loss of a husband or father due to someone else’s negligence can drain a family’s resources. Civil actions recognize and compensate those left behind for the economic impact of unexpected funeral and burial costs, irreplaceable wages of a family breadwinner and the emotional toll of a loved one’s death.

Source: voiceofwr.com, “Man pleads in texting while driving fatality,” Amy Van Meter, Sept. 5, 2012