Texting alleged when woman’s car hit teens

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 1, 2010



HAHNVILLE – Three Luling teenagers were hospitalized with serious injuries Saturday after a Luling woman ran into them with her car while she was allegedly texting on her cell phone behind the wheel, according to a spokesman for the St. Charles Sheriff’s Office.

Stephanie L. Clay, 42, of 1173 North Luling Estates Drive, was charged with texting while operating a motor vehicle, reckless operation and three counts of negligent injuring in connection with the Saturday evening accident, said Capt. Pat Yoes, a public information officer for the Sheriff’s Office. Clay was being held at the Nelson Coleman Correctional Facility in Killona on a $315,000 bond.

According to a release from the Sheriff’s Office, Clay was driving northbound in her red Kia Spectra sedan in the 1000 block of Luling Estates Drive just after 5 p.m. Saturday when she drove into the group of teens, who were standing near the curb.

Yoes said witnesses told investigators Clay was traveling faster than the posted 25 mph speed limit, and they could see her texting on her cell phone when she drove into the group. A handful of residents on the block ran toward the scene and helped lift the car to get the boys out, he said. Two of the teens were dragged by the car as much as 20 feet.

Yoes said the victims, Joseph Kirsch, 15, Treval Dunmiles, 17, and Joseph Rafiel, 17, each sustained serious injuries. Yoes said Kirsch, who suffered a broken hip, and Dunmiles, who had a large gash on his leg, were transported to Ochsner Hospital in Jefferson. Rafiel, who was most severely injured, was taken to University Hospital with a head injury.

All three boys are students at Hahnville High School.

On Monday, Hahnville principal Ken Oertling said he had visited with all three boys and said family members were in good spirits.

He said Hanhville students were informed about the accident through the school’s closed circuit television network Monday morning.

The accident Saturday comes on the heels of a new state law that makes texting while driving a primary traffic violation. Drivers can now be pulled over and issued citations if they are caught using a mobile device for any sort of text transfer.

“This is a very serious and unfortunate reminder of the dangers of any distractions while driving,” Yoes said. “This is the sort of thing that this new law is supposed to prevent.”