A New Jersey woman who prosecutors said was distracted by her cellphone was found guilty of causing a 2016 collision due that killed a woman crossing a street.
Alexandra Mansonet, 50, of Keansburg, was convicted Friday of second-degree vehicular homicide in the death of Yuwen Wang, 39. She faces up to 10 years in state prison.
Mansonet was looking at her phone when she rear-ended a Toyota Corolla driven by Robert Matich around 8:20 a.m. on Sept. 28, 2016, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office said in a press release.
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Matich, who was in the car with his son, was driving south on a street in Hazlet when he stopped to allow people to cross the street on a crosswalk. Mansonet’s vehicle slammed into the back of Matich’s car, pushing it forward into the crosswalk where it struck Wang.
Wang was airlifted to a hospital where she died days later, on Oct. 3.
Investigators said Mansonet had “made no observations of Matich’s vehicle” and did not hit her brakes before the crash.
“This is a tragedy in every respect. Texting while driving puts drivers and pedestrians in grave danger and we are hopeful that the jury’s verdict will reinforce the public’s awareness of this risk,” said Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni in a statement.
Prosecutors said at the trial that moments before the crash, Mansonet received a text from her then sister-in-law asking about dinner plans, according to NJ.com. The message read: “Cuban, American or Mexican? You pick.”
Assistant Prosecutor Christopher Decker told the court that Mansonet did not respond to the message, but records show that she did read it.
Her attorney, Steven Altman, said she received the message about a minute before the crash, suggesting that the text may not have distracted her. He said she was trying to find the car’s rear defrost button when the accident occurred, NJ.com reports.
“The accident happened 60 seconds after she received the text,” he said in court. “She could have been half a mile away.”