Texting driver hits, injures Daytona Beach officers, police say

News 6 pushes for tougher laws

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Two Daytona Beach police officers were injured early Wednesday in a crash caused by a man who was texting and driving, according to authorities.

Daytona Beach police Chief Mike Chitwood said the driver, Noah Saunier, 21, admitted that he was texting when he hit the officers on the Seabreeze Bridge. The Florida Highway Patrol said Saunier told troopers that he was distracted by his phone.

"That's the most frustrating thing about this whole incident is that this never should have happened. There is no reason for it to happen," Chitwood said.

The officers were investigating a crash about 1:30 a.m. at the top of the bridge when Saunier's 2008 Ford pickup slammed into the back of a police cruiser, authorities said.

Officer William Grant, who was inside the cruiser, suffered a cut to his forehead, which required 14 stitches and four staples, and was taken to Halifax Hospital, police said. His cruiser struck another police car, which hit Officer Marvin Boone, who suffered an injury to his side, police said.

Chitwood said Officer Boone saw the truck coming and jumped out of the way just in time.

"When you look at the damage that was done to his [Grant's] vehicle, I don't know... you can see how lucky this young man was that he survived," Chitwood said.

Emergency lights were activated on both cruisers at the time of the crash, police said.

Chitwood said a "guardian angel" was looking over the officers.

The chief adds cases like this are frustrating because law enforcement can't cite drivers for texting and driving if they don't catch them in the act.

"I think we're getting to the point where the legislators need to start looking at how serious this is...the amount injured, the amount of damage and deaths that are occurring because of this and they need to come down hard on it," Chitwood said.

The chief is joining News 6's efforts to drive change to Florida's distracted driving laws.

"That's a guided missile, that car, and if you're going to be reckless then we need to match that recklessness with a law that will make you pay the penalties, like losing your driver's license, points on your license and going to jail. "

The FHP continues to investigate.

News 6 fights for tougher laws

News 6 anchor Matt Austin, a recent crash victim, is pushing for tougher texting and driving laws in Florida.

Austin was stopped at a light when he was rear-ended by another vehicle. Austin suffered a concussion, needed 10 staples to close a head wound and missed two weeks of work.

During the next legislative session, News 6 will work on a series of stories regarding texting and driving laws in an attempt to get state laws changed.

"We’re not doing it because I got hurt. Unfortunately, in our state, lots of people get hurt because of distracted drivers. And that’s a problem," Austin said. "We’re doing it to help everyone, but my selfish reason is to give my three daughters safer roads when they’re old enough to drive."

 

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