Why are we still having this conversation in 2021?
In September, 2019, a couple was out for a nice ride on their Can-Am Spyder in Grand Rapids, Wisconsin. That’s when everything changed for them, because that’s also when Elizabeth A. Zivney allegedly drove her Chevy Cruze right into the Spyder. Deborah J. Johnson, who was a passenger on the Spyder, died as a result of that crash. Her husband, who was piloting the bike, suffered serious injuries.
Zivney currently faces second-degree reckless homicide charges in Johnson’s death. The official court complaint states that her car was going 85 mph in a 65-mph zone when she hit the Spyder. Local paper the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune said a Grand Rapids detective described the Spyder as being “embedded in the front of Zivney’s Cruze,” because she hit it that hard.
All of this is more than bad enough, of course, but I haven’t even gotten to the worst part yet. You see, Zivney initially claimed that she was distracted by her work cell phone ring while she was driving. She said that she tried to answer it, but instead grabbed her personal phone by accident. However, forensic examination of both of Zivney’s phones revealed that she was playing a game called Lucky Gold on her personal phone at the time of the crash.
A quick search reveals that Lucky Gold is a Lotto, scratch off, and spin-and-win casino game available in the Google Play store. According to the complaint, Zivney had been playing Lucky Gold for 7 minutes and 54 seconds directly prior to the crash. In that time, she made it through 19 different game screens before allegedly plowing into the Spyder, ending Johnson’s life, and seriously injuring Johnson’s husband (whose name has not been released). He survived, but he fractured both shoulders in the crash, as well as his left arm, ribs, pelvis, and vertebrae. He also suffered a collapsed lung. All this pain for less than 8 minutes of a game on Zivney’s phone.
I shouldn’t have to keep saying this, but when you’re driving or riding, NOTHING should take your attention away from the road. Zivney’s alleged and extremely selfish actions irreparably ruined far more than the two lives of the people she hit that day. Both Deborah J. Johnson and her husband very likely have family and friends who love them, and whose lives have also been shattered because of 7 minutes and 54 seconds of some stupid gaming app.
Please don’t ever do this. Smartphones are great, but they have a time and a place. Streaming music or a navigation app while you’re moving is one thing, because you probably set that up before you started on your way. However, tapping away at your screen while your eyes and reflexes should be on the road is not OK. Tell your friends, tell your family, tell anyone and everyone you see. Sound like a broken record if you have to, until it gets through. There is literally nothing on your phone that is more important than someone else’s life.