Source: Orange County District Attorney Office
WESTMINSTER – An 8-year-old boy Andrew James Brumback lost his life a year ago in the few moments Anita Sue Cherry took her eyes off the road while driving on Shawnee Road behind the wheel of her sports utility vehicle.
The boy was riding his bicycle to school alongside his sister about 8 a.m. on Jan. 19, 2011 when Cherry’s Ford SUV smashed into him at the intersection of Shawnee and Iroquois roads. The boy was thrown off his bike and into the street. His sister was not injured. Despite wearing a helmet the boy was severely injured and died soon after at Huntington Beach Medical Center.
Now the 49-year-old Westminster resident has pleaded guilty today to one misdemeanor count of reckless driving and has been sentenced to three years of informal probation and 300 hours of community service for being distracted behind the wheel.
“Distracted driving is not limited to drivers who are talking or texting on cell phones behind the wheel, but as this case shows even drivers who take their eyes off the road can be held accountable for their negligence,” said Attorney West Seegmiller, founder of the Seegmiller Law Firm in Orange County. “I sincerely hope this case will be a wake-up call to all distracted drivers to be alert and drive safely.”
The loss of the child, a third grader at Sequoia Elementary School in Westminster, has been devastating on his family. His mother Debbie Brumback told the court that the boy’s sister Anna had blamed herself and his brother Aaron won’t admit to new friends that he even had a brother because he would have to explain what happened.
“My husband Bill misses his ‘little buddy’ that used to watch all sports events with him,” she told the Orange County court at Cherry’s sentencing Tuesday morning. “At school, AJ’s friends tell me how much they miss him. His best friend, Ryan, has been in therapy and hurts to find a friend to play with and share his secrets with. He misses the love of his friend. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss my little AJ.”
Cherry remained at the scene of the crash and waited for officers from the Westminster Police Department to arrive at the scene of the bicycle accident. The boy’s bicycle was still underneath her SUV when police arrived. Police did not cite Cherry at the time of the crash – she was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The victim’s brother Aaron told Cherry at the sentencing today “I would like you to know that you are forgiven. I pray and hope that you have learned to forgive yourself. Despite whatever pain I have, and continually will, experience, I deeply and truly desire for your happiness, good will, and peace of heart.”
National Distracted Driving Statistics
Distracted driving goes beyond texting and talking on cell phones to include any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving such as eating and drinking, grooming, reading, fiddling with navigation systems, radios and CD players and even talking to passengers or reaching for items inside the vehicle. However, text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, making it the most lethal distraction a driver can engage in behind the wheel.
“At any given moment during daylight hours, over 800,000 vehicles are being driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone,” according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Authority.
Indeed, the NHTSA reports there were 5,474 people killed in traffic accidents involving driver distraction and roughly 448,000 were injured in 2009. Additionally, according to the NHTSA, 16% of fatal crashes in 2009 involved distracted driving of some sort.
The Seegmiller Law Firm can be reached at 1-855-ASK–WEST. For over 30 years, the firm has been a staunch advocate for victims’ rights and has fought for clients involved in personal injury and wrongful death cases, including premises liability, product liability, auto accidents, dog bites, nursing home negligence, medical malpractice, at-work injuries and more. The firm has offices in Irvine, Riverside, Los Angeles and San Bernardino, California, and Las Vegas, Nevada.