A distracted Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, teen girl who was using the popular iPhone video and audio chat feature FaceTime, walked directly into the path of a moving SUV and was struck by the vehicle, according to witnesses.
Police say the 14-year-old girl was hit by the vehicle Wednesday around 2:45 p.m. while walking near Abington High School on the 900 block of Highland Avenue in Abington Township.
Witnesses told investigators the girl was chatting via FaceTime on her phone when she stepped off the sidewalk and directly into the path of a SUV traveling south on Highland Avenue. The driver was unable to stop in time and struck the girl, knocking her unconscious. Police say the driver immediately pulled over after the crash to help the teen. He is not facing any charges.
The girl was taken to Abington Memorial Hospital and was later transferred to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Police have not yet released her condition.
"The fact that that can happen to you in ten seconds is very scary," said Maddie Jenkins, a friend of the girl.
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The girl is a cheerleader at Abington High School. Her friends described her as a happy and fun teammate.
"Our first game is this Friday," said Amia Black, one of the girl's teammates. "She's really excited to be stunting there. So just really hoping that she's okay."
Distracted walking is a major concern for municipalities nationwide.
Philadelphia launched a public awareness campaign in 2012 with an April Fool's "joke" by creating an "e-lane" for people who used their phones as they walked.
In May of 2015, a Texas woman visiting Philadelphia was struck and killed by a Ride the Ducks boat in the city's Chinatown neighborhood. Witnesses say she was distracted by an iPad prior to being struck.
The woman was one of 12 pedestrians that year who were killed while using portable electronic devices, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
In 2012, more than 1,500 pedestrians nationwide were hospitalized after being injured while walking and using their cell phone, according to a NHTSA pedestrian safety report released in April 2016.
"As the authors point out, however, underreporting of emergency room visits due to distracted walking is likely, so the true number of pedestrian injuries attributable to cell phone conversation-related distractions is potentially much higher than 1,500 per year," the report states.
"The rapid increase in reported injuries indicates pedestrians face more dangers when either they or motorists are distracted by electronic devices. However, the extent to which pedestrian safety is affected as a result of distraction among drivers and pedestrians is not well quantified through scientific study."