Carlee Rose Bollig was not only an unlicensed driver, but was texting on a cell phone when, prosecutors say, the 17-year-old girl from Little Falls, Minnesota, caused an unthinkable tragedy — a tragedy that could have been easily avoided if she had simply heeded the panicked pleas of her three friends in the pickup truck as they repeatedly warned her put down her phone and stop texting.
Instead, according to the charges filed against her in a Minnesota District Court, she told her friends to “f**k off!” Now a 10-year-old girl and her 54-year-old dad are dead after the July 21 tragedy, a tragedy that was, police say, caused solely by one teen’s carelessness and stupidity.
Other passengers in the truck frantically yelled “Red light! Red light!” as the distracted Bollig barreled into the intersection of U.S. Highway 10 and County Road 11 on the road between Becker and Big Lake, Minnesota, according to a report on the North Wright County Today news site.
Investigators found that Bolling was apparently so engrossed in her social media activities that she did not even step on the brake as the pickup she was driving sped through the red light and T-boned a van driven by 54-year-old Charles “Chuck” Maurer, and carrying his 10-year-old daughter Cassy, a fifth-grader at an elementary school in Becker. The dad and his daughter are pictured at the top of this page.
Also in the van were Maurer’s older teen daughter Alenita, 16, and her 15-year-old friend Alora Nelson. The other two girls were injured, but survived. Charles Maurer died later that night, and Cassy Maurer survived with critical injuries for 10 days before she was removed from a life support system and passed away.
In fact, according to the charges as reported in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Bollig told the three other teenagers in the vehicle that “she didn’t care if she crashed.” And after the horrific crash happened, Bollig lied to police about who was actually driving the vehicle.
Bollig told investigators that her 18-year-old boyfriend Deven Garlock — the only licensed driver of the four teens in the vehicle — was behind the wheel when the crash happened. But police soon saw through the lie, and another passenger Caysi Jaronske, 17, confirmed in interviews with police that Bollig was the driver. Garlock, himself, also told investigators that he was not driving, but was actually in the back seat of the truck during the ill-fated drive.
Jaronske also told police, 10 days after the accident, that she pleaded with Bollig to put down her phone and pay attention to driving “on eight or nine occasions.” But the texting driver “refused to comply.”
Bollig herself refused to answer police questions, citing the advice of her mother, the court affidavit said.
Police investigators found Bollig’s cell phone in the wrecked pickup truck, lying on the floor on the driver’s side, under the brake pedal. When they analyzed the data stored on the phone, they found “multiple electronic messages,” mostly via the Facebook app, that extended back for eight minutes before the deadly crash.
Investigators searching the car also uncovered a small quantity of what they described as “synthetic” marijuana along with two pipes, presumably for smoking the substance.
According to a report on Monday in the Star-Tribune, a recent survey by the State Farm insurance agency found that 90 percent of teenage drivers say they know that texting and driving is a dangerous combination — but 44 percent of them say they do it anyway.
In Minnesota alone, in 2014, 61 fatalities and more than 7,000 injuries were the result of distracted driving, which includes texting and other distractions, such as taking one’s eyes off the road to talk to other passengers in the car.
The latest accused texting driver, Carlee Bollig, now faces two charges of criminal vehicular homicide as well as criminal vehicular operation, texting while driving, and driving without a license.
[Image via Chuck and Cassy Maurer Memorial Fund]