Anthony Arminio says he still wonders how he’s still alive whenever he looks at the mangled wreckage that was once his Chevy truck.
“I literally said to myself, ‘I’m done,’” Arminio said.
Arminio and his father were driving in Bucks County back on November 12, 2011 when a Volkswagen Jetta flew through the air and landed on top of their Chevy, crushing the legs of both men.
The injuries the father and son suffered were devastating.
“It was more a matter of what wasn’t broken,” Arminio said. “When I went in they said they were going to X-ray my entire body.”
Arminio suffered broken legs, a broken pelvis, a broken hip and bleeding to his brain due to the accident. His father suffered a broken neck.
Three years and more than $400,000 in hospital payments later
, both men say they still deal with pain from the accident. The driver of the Jetta, 27-year-old William Van Camp, was arrested for his role in the crash. But he wasn’t under the influence or driving too fast. Instead he was doing something that is a common occurrence for many. He was texting while driving.
“This didn’t involve speed,” said Buckingham Township Police Officer John Lehnen. “This didn’t involve alcohol. Didn’t involve drugs. This involved texting. Mr. Van Camp sent or received 13 text messages in the last 12 minutes prior to the accident.”
“I was talking to three different people,” Van Camp said. “I’m not sure who I was talking to at the time. All via text.”
Van Camp says he doesn’t even remember what he was texting about. But he’ll always remember the consequences. He spent nine months in prison and is still completing his required 50 hours of community service and restitution payments.
Officials say texting while driving causes around 1.6 million accidents each year. While there is no national ban on texting and driving, it’s illegal in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Yet Officer Lehnen admits that cases are difficult to prove.
“It’s not that easy,” Lehnen said. “The officer has to be able to observe the individual and see their attention is off the highway.”
In some states, police officers are doing exactly that, perching above the usual sight lines in tractor trailers to catch texting drivers in the act.
“There is nothing that important that they should put their life or anybody else’s life in jeopardy over a text,” Arminio said.
As part of his court-ordered community service, Van Camp speaks to young people about the dangers of texting while driving.
“I would never do it again,” he said. “I know what can happen if you do it. I learned my lesson the hard way.”
Published at 12:58 AM EST on Feb 27, 2014