Texting and driving in Bend

Seven weeks ago a Bend teenager riding a bicycle was killed when he was struck by a vehicle driven by Erik Mackenzie Conn. Conn claims he had been glancing at the speedometer and thus did not see the rider, who was riding a bicycle with his friend. Conn’s story may not hold up, as he was just arrested on a number of charges, including reckless driving, criminally negligent homicide, and second-degree manslaughter.

The bicyclists were riding on the gravel shoulder of a notoriously busy and dangerous road, Reed Market Road, in Bend. Conn was driving a pickup truck that was pulling a trailer, and he had a passenger, Stacie Lee. Though Conn says he was not texting and driving, records indicate he was texting about two minutes before the collision. In addition, Conn’s passenger told police that Conn had pulled his vehicle over while on 27th Street so that he could text safely. A witness on 27th Street, however, had a different account. The witness had been driving behind Conn and said Conn did not pull over and that he was driving at excessive speeds.

Whatever happened, the fact remains that a sixteen-year-old boy lost his life. Before the truth comes out, there are still several factors to consider with the hope that people will think about safety: the road is dangerous, the driver may have been texting and driving, the driver may have been speeding, and the bicyclist was not wearing a helmet. The helmet may not have saved his life, since he did not die of a head injury, but it’s still something to think about.

For more information, see this story.