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Texting while driving
leads to criminal charges

A sixteen-year-old girl has been charged with manslaughter, assault, and texting while driving in connection with a September 2011 fatality collision.

Rachel N. Gannon, of Kansas City, was allegedly texting on her cell phone when she lost control of her vehicle and collided with a car driven by Loretta J. Larimer, who was killed in the crash.

Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd said Gannon was charged April 19, after having been certified to stand trial as an adult on April 16.

According to court documents, Gannon was traveling north on NW Skyview Road on Sept. 26, 2011 at approximately 3 p.m. when she struck Larimer’s vehicle near Interstate 435.

Gannon was allegedly looking at her cell phone and texting when she ran off the side of the road. When Gannon returned her vehicle to the road, she struck a car heading in the opposite direction.

Larimer was extricated from her car and taken to the hospital where she was pronounced dead. A 10-year-old girl riding in the back seat of Larimer’s car sustained injuries which were not life-threatening.

Gannon is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the second degree, third degree assault, and texting while driving. If convicted of the manslaughter charge, Gannon faces up to four years in prison. She faces up to one year in jail on the assault charge and a $200 fine if convicted of texting while driving.

Under Missouri law, texting while driving is only a crime for drivers under age 21. Zahnd said he believed the Missouri legislature should prohibit texting while driving for all drivers, regardless of age.

“Research shows texting while driving is as dangerous as driving while drunk,” Zahnd said. “It should be illegal for anyone of any age to text while they drive.”

Gannon posted a $5,000 bond and surrendered her driver’s license as a condition of bond. Her first court date has not been set.

The case was investigated by the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Humiston.