Columbia Police Officer Charged for Child’s Death – Distracted Driving and Personal Injuries

What Happened?

Andria Heese, a police officer with the Columbia Police Department, faces charges of involuntary manslaughter after the death of four-year-old Gabriella Curry. Curry was struck and killed by a police vehicle at Battle High School in January 2019. Court documents reported that Heese was traveling 14 miles per hour when her vehicle struck Curry.

In May 2019, a settlement was reached between the City of Columbia and the family of the deceased girl, Gabriella Curry. According to KOMU, each of Gabriella’s parents will receive more than $1.1 million dollars. Additionally, the city will cover funeral costs in the amount of just under $27,000. The total cost of the settlement for the City was approximately $3.4 million.

Distracted Driving in Missouri and Personal Injury

Distracted driving could result in a personal injury case—a person can be held liable for injuries and damages in civil court after a traffic accident involving distracted driving. Missouri’s distracted driving laws apply to drivers under the age of 21 and commercial vehicles. This means that drivers under the age of 21 and commercial drivers could face criminal charges for distracted driving. While criminal charges may only be brought against the aforementioned classes of people, a civil suit can still be brought against non-commercial drivers and drivers over the age of 21.

Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of all traffic accidents in Missouri. Our phones are one of the biggest distractions we have on the roadway. Here are some common actions that are defined by the Missouri State Highway Patrol as distracted driving:

  • Texting or sending any electronic message
  • Applying makeup
  • Eating or drinking
  • Wearing earbuds or headphones

Exceptions to distracted driving restrictions include using an electronic device:

  • While lawfully parked or stopped
  • That are factory-installed or aftermarket GPS devices
  • To report illegal activity or to summon emergency help
  • To prevent injury to a person or property
  • To relay information between a transit or for-hire operator and the operator’s dispatch

If you were involved in a vehicular collision involving distracted driving, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer willing to fight for your full recovery. Similarly, if you are being sued for injuries or damages caused by distracted driving or facing criminal charges involving distracted driving, contact an attorney in Columbia to start formulating your defense today.