Northland teen charged with texting while driving in fatal crash

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BY TONY RIZZO 816-234-4435 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The Kansas City Star

In “tragic case,” teen allegedly was looking at phone when she crashed, killing a woman, 72.

Rachel Gannon, 16, has been charged as an adult in a fatal Northland wreck she allegedly caused by texting while driving.

In what is believed to be the first case of its kind in the Kansas City area, and perhaps in Missouri, prosecutors charged a 16-year-old Northland girl Thursday with texting while driving and causing a traffic crash that killed a 72-year-old woman.

Prosecutors used the texting allegation to add a much more serious charge — second-degree involuntary manslaughter — against Rachel Gannon, whom a judge certified this week to stand trial as an adult.

According to court records, Gannon was texting, looking at her phone and listening to loud music when she lost control of her vehicle in September and slammed into a car driven by Loretta Larimer, a great-grandmother from Camden Point who had pulled off the Kansas City, North road into grass in an attempt to avoid the out-of-control vehicle headed her way.

The manslaughter charge alleges that Gannon demonstrated “criminal negligence” by losing control by texting while driving.

Gannon also is charged with third-degree assault for injuries suffered by Larimer’s 10-year-old granddaughter, who was riding in Larimer’s back seat, and she is charged with violating the 2009 Missouri law that prohibits motorists 21 or younger from text-messaging.

“Driving requires total concentration, and to put lives at risk to respond to a usually irrelevant text is reckless, irresponsible and criminal,” said John Larimer, the victim’s son, who said he thinks that all school driver’s education classes should include information about the dangers of distracted driving.

The case prompted Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd, who filed the charges, to call Thursday for the Missouri General Assembly to prohibit texting while driving for all drivers, regardless of age. Bills calling for such a law have been introduced in Missouri in recent years, but none has passed... Continue reading.