News

Crash victim's phone had half-written text message on it

Paula Jessep died in a head-on crash three days before last Christmas. Photo / Supplied
Paula Jessep died in a head-on crash three days before last Christmas. Photo / Supplied

A POLICE officer has told how he picked up the phone of a driver killed in a road crash and found a half-written text message on it.

The inquest into the death of Paula Jessep, 37, in Rotorua yesterday heard how she died on December 22 last year when her Toyota Rav 4 collided head-on with a Nissan Sunny on State Highway 1 north of Tirau.

Ms Jessep was alone and the Nissan was carrying three people, all of whom were injured.

Although it was raining heavily at the time, police suspected she had been texting and driving, which became illegal on November 1, 2009.

Senior Sergeant Fane Troy said when he arrived at the scene, he found Ms Jessep's cellphone in the driver's footwell of her car.

"I opened the phone as there were messages showing on the outside screen. When I opened the phone, I noted that it opened to a text message that was half-written."

Mr Troy said he read the received and sent messages, and it appeared a text conversation had been going on.


He said the wet roads did not contribute to the crash.

Coroner Wallace Bain asked how many text messages Ms Jessep had sent in the 45 minutes it would have taken her to travel from Rotorua, her starting point, to Tirau.

Mr Troy said he counted 19, the last sent about 15 minutes before the crash.

Dr Bain said that while she might have pulled over to send some of the messages, the number showed she had been sending texts while she was driving.

"We know she was texting and driving but whether she was at that particular stage."

Two young women injured in the crash have started an anti-texting and driving campaign.

Ms Jessep's son Eliot Jessep, 17, said he had turned down several requests to join it.

"I'm not thrilled about it because it puts my mum in a bad light."

He said he believed his mother could have been distracted by several things, and it wasn't necessarily texting that caused her death.

"What stood out to me was how the heater was sitting. This may not sound like a big thing but if she was driving in a hot car, that would make her a lot more tired and distracted.

"She was in Rotorua earlier in the week for a funeral and she would have been very tired."

Eliot Jessep said he did not think anyone could be 100 per cent sure texting and driving had caused his mother to crash. He said the cause of death should be noted as being "distracted in general".

Dr Bain reserved his decision.

There have been 28 phone-related road deaths since early 2007.

Last month, the Herald counted 29 people in the space of an hour using phones while they were driving north through Auckland's 80km/h central motorway junction.

Anyone using a handheld cellphone while driving can be fined $80 and get 20 demerit points.

TEXTING DEATHS

May 2006: A man dies after crashing car into a power pole. Coroner later finds he was distracted by a series of text messages.

September 2008: A Mid-Canterbury teenager was allegedly sending and reading text messages before his sports utility vehicle crashed into a car, killing two people.

March 2010: A 21-year-old man admitted being distracted by a text message when he drove into and killed a 93-year-old woman on a Hastings pedestrian crossing.

July 2010: A Rotorua teenager denies police claim he was texting moments before a crash in which 11 people were hurt, one fatally.

- THE DAILY POST

Topics:  crash victim editors picks fatal mobile phone text message



Joy of Christmas goes up in lights

Christmas lights at  a Banora Point home last year.

Who has the best lights this Christmas?

Lightning death: Teens praised for trying to save man's life

Tweed Byron Local Area Commander Superintendent Wayne Starling fronts the media over the fatal lightning strike at Mt Warning earlier this morning.

Rescue operation underway after two people struck by lightning

School's out as 50,000 NSW teachers stop work

About 50,000 state school teachers across NSW will stop work on Thursday morning for a salary vote.

Minimal supervision will still be available as 50,000 teachers vote

Local Partners

Joy of Christmas goes up in lights

Which house on the Tweed has the best Christmas?


Man builds playground entirely out of packing tape

Artist Eric Lennartson is in the process of completing his huge tape sculpture at the Ipswich Art Gallery.

VIDEO:And here's where you can play on it.

Cooly sings out for carols

Santa gets ready to skydive into the Coolangatta Christmas Carols on Sunday, December 13. Photo: Scott Powick Daily News

Santa dropping in for Christmas Carols at Coolangatta

Countdown to Woodford Folk Festival begins

ECONOMIC BOON: Woodford Folk Festival is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.  Photo Contributed

The first larger-than-life inhabitants have stepped into Woodfordia

Sia, Keith Urban top Aussie Grammy nominations

Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban at the 50th Annual Country Music Association (CMA) Awards

Beyonce dominates with nine nods for 2017 Grammy Awards

Hailey Baldwin: I don't understand Taylor Swift's squad

Hailey Baldwin has taken a quick stab at Taylor Swift and co.

Taylor Lautner 'spotted smooching co-star'

Taylor Lautner has been romantically linked to Billie Lourd

David Beckham's tattoos come to life for UNICEF campaign

David Beckham has called for an end to violence against children

Pop star Liam Payne's Facebook hacked with porn

"Things that can happen to you when you don't have sex."

Tim Roth was abused by his grandfather

Tim Roth was abused by his grandfather during his childhood.

INSIDE STORY: The highlights of your $150 million CBD

GRAND PLAN: The highlights of the Ipswich CBD redevelopment and where they will be located.

Work on city heart's radical transformation to begin next year

VOTE IN OUR POLL: Sand mine opponents face serious dilemma

Public meeting for the proposed sand mine at Maroochydore last week.

Coast MP calls on Minister to stop KRA proposal with stroke of a pen

Developer's grand new multi-million dollar estate

NEW ESTATE: This is the only plan revealed by the property developer's new Billabongs Estate in Agnes Water.

DEVELOPER given the go ahead for a massive estate with 149 homes.

Banks reclaim Gladstone homes as job losses bite

LONG FALL: Property experts Heron Todd say, based on key market indicators, Gladstone is still travelling to the bottom of the market, with property prices set to get cheaper.

Property valuers say Gladstone housing market hasn't hit the bottom

The million dollar property to test Mackay's market

This Victoria St building will go to auction Tuesday and investors will be watching closely to see how much it sells for.

'High profile architect designed CBD asset' goes to auction

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!