An NYPD officer driving a police van that struck and killed a teacher was apparently talking on her cell phone at the time of the accident, according to media reports.
Officer Paula Medrano is said to have been behind the wheel of the police vehicle on Saturday afternoon when it struck middle school Spanish teacher Felix Cross a few blocks from his Brooklyn home, DNAinfo New York reported
. Witnesses told investigators that they saw the officer talking on her cell phone when the accident occurred.
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Officers demanded the phone, but Medrano reportedly refused to turn it over, forcing investigators to issue a subpoena, DNAinfo said.
Driving while talking on a cell phone is illegal in New York and can come with a $100 ticket if you’re caught.
The investigation has not concluded and Medrano has not been charged, authorities said.
Both Medrano and Cross had a green light; Medrano was making a left turn onto Broadway while the victim was in the crosswalk, according to DNAinfo.
“It definitely didn’t look like it was his fault,” an eyewitness who declined to be identified told WABC in New York
. “It appeared that he was crossing the street, mostly likely had the right of way. The cop did not yield and hit him.”
The National Safety Council estimates that 21 percent, or 1.1 million automobile crashes, in 2010 involved people who were on their cell phone — though not all who were talking on the phone were responsible for the accident. An additional 3 percent of accidents that year involved people who were texting at the time of the crash.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that 5,474 people were killed on U.S. roadways and an additional 448,000 were injured in motor vehicle accidents involving distracted drivers in 2009.
California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Hawaii, New Jersey, and New York are among the states that ban all drivers from using a cell phone, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
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