Local mom blames Snapchat use in distracted driving crash
ELLENSBURG, Wash-- April Haugen thought she was letting her daughter out for some harmless fun in Seattle.
Little did she know there would be no adult supervision - just a car full of teenagers.
It was around 11 o’clock at night, when they were driving back home to Ellensburg, and things quickly took a turn for the worse.
“They were making a video on Snapchat, and supposedly was going 90 miles an hour, I don't know for sure, but they flew off into the center median, about an hour outside Ellensburg, and hit a drainage ditch,” said Haugen.
Haugen tells me there were four teenagers in the car, and the only person wearing their seat belt was the driver. The front passenger was completely turned around and filming the backseat passengers. Everyone was singing and dancing, and in an instant, the singing turned to screams.
Haugen vividly remembers the phone call from her daughter, crying for help.
“Immediately, my heart stopped. Like, ‘What’s happening? Who’s hurt? Put whoever’s driving on the phone. Call 911.' A hysterically screaming child in the background is not something a parent ever wants to wake up to, it was terrifying,” said Haugen.
She says all the commotion in the car is what led to the driver losing control. She says it’s also likely that the driver, too, was on her cell phone leading up to the crash.
“It sounds like the driver had been on her cell phone right before the accident, and they were all distracted doing something, and they had agreed to make a Snapchat video,” said Haugen.
All of the people in the car were lucky enough to walk away from the crash alive. Haugen's daughter, however, had some pretty bad injuries to her mouth, and had it not been for a split-second decision, things could have ended up deadly.
“She broke eight teeth in her mouth, and she had managed to turn her head briefly before the impact, or else she could’ve broken her neck,” she said.
Haugen says she often replays the moment in her head and tries to make sense of what happened that night.
“Maybe this girl looked over at the video they were making, or looked behind her, or in the mirror to see what was happening, and was already distracted, and the road changed, and it was wet and she overcorrected,” said Haugen.
The incident was traumatizing and life-changing, and her wish is for her daughter to take this as a learning experience for when it’s her time to drive. She says she shares her story with hopes that this'll encourage parents to talk to their kids, and ask questions before letting them get into other people's cars.
“Instilling in our kids the safety outside of our reach and helping them to understand the bigger picture; it’s not just the moment, but how everything affects everybody,” said Haugen.