Rockford's Independent Newspaper

Woman using phone while driving gets 90 days for deadly crash

By Jim Hagerty

ST. PAUL, Minn. — A Wisconsin woman who fumbled with her cellphone before causing a fatal crash will spend 90 days in jail for careless driving, a judge ordered Tuesday, April 3.

Prosecutors say Destiny Xiong, 36, reached for her phone before crashing into a line of cars in New Brighton, Minnesota in May 2016. The wreck killed 31-year-old Bea Miller, of Hudson, Wisconsin, and injured Miller’s 37-year-old fiance.

Xiong was also charged with vehicular homicide but was found no guilty after a jury trial February. Her attorney argue that the crash was not an act of homicide but negligence on Xiong’s part.

Miller’s family spoke in court Tuesday, asking Judge David Higgs to give Xiong the maximum sentence for careless driving allowed under Minnesota law.

“Her horrible mistake has changed many lives forever,” Miller’s mother said. “Her kids get to see her everyday … while my granddaughter only gets to know what her mom look(ed) like (from pictures).”

In addition to 90 days in jail, Higgs ordered Xiong to tell her story publicly in order to send a message about the dangers of distracted driving.

“I want you to share your story,” Higgs ordered. “Not the story of looking down and grabbing your phone … but (the story of the) pain and agony that distracted driving can cause.”

Higgs suggested Xiong write a letter the editor of newspaper.

Xiong, an employee of the City of Minneapolis, cried as she apologized to Miller’s family in court. She addressed Miller’s daughter, Izzy, who was not present, saying she would “always be reminded of what I have taken away from you–your mother.”

Xiong has no prior criminal record. She said she took her eyes off the road when she received a text message from her daughter and dropped her phone. R.


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