PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Gov. Doug Ducey is signaling his support for a statewide texting and driving ban in the wake of a distracted-driving crash that killed a Salt River Police officer.
“There was talk of a bill last year of distracted driving,” Ducey told reporters Wednesday. “Had that gotten to my desk, I would have signed it. I want to make sure that we prevent and avoid this type of tragedy in the future.”
The driver involved in Tuesday evening’s crash, 40-year-old Jerry Sanstead, told detectives he was texting when he struck and killed Ofc. Clayton Townsend, who had pulled over another driver on the Loop 101 in Scottsdale.
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Arizona, along with Missouri and Montana, is one of the only states in the country allowing texting behind the wheel. Arizona only has a cellphone use ban for drivers under 18.
There have been several attempts for a more comprehensive ban, but those failed.
“It’s very embarrassing,” said former Republican State Sen. Bob Worsley, who pushed for a texting ban. “I sat through many sad stories in my committee listening to parents, listening to family members who lost loved ones.”
Worsley says he hopes that this tragedy will spark change in the legislature.
“I think there should be a bill introduced that would maybe do what we were trying to do last year,” Worsley said. “Honor Ofc. Clayton Townsend.”
It’s a feeling echoed by family members who have lost loved ones to distracted driving.
Jody Kieran says the redlight runner who struck and killed her daughter, Pamela Hesselbacher, and injured her grandchildren back in 2016 was using Facebook on his phone at the time of the crash.
Kieran says her heart breaks for Townsend’s family.
“This was not ever a club that I wanted to be a part of,” Kieran said. “And I don’t want the club to even exist.”