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Driver in Facebook-involved crash accused of homicide, faces judge

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Posted at 7:22 AM, Oct 07, 2014
and last updated 2015-07-31 20:24:12-04

A 20-year-old North Dakota woman is scheduled to face a judge Wednesday after state troopers claim she was using Facebook when she caused a fatal crash earlier this year.

Abby Sletten faces one count of negligent homicide for the May 27 wreck, which killed a great-grandmother and injured two other women.

Phyllis Gordon, 89, of Minnesota, was riding as a passenger with her daughter and granddaughter on Interstate 29 near Hillsboro, North Dakota, when Sletten’s car slammed into the back of their SUV, according to troopers.

“(A witness) told the trooper he didn’t see Sletten brake before she rear-ended the SUV with such force that her car nearly hit his when it bounced off and traveled across the driving lane,” read a report from The Bismarck Tribune. Sletten’s car was estimated to be travelling between 85 and 90 miles per hour when the crash happened.

Troopers suspected Sletten was distracted behind the wheel, as there were no skid marks on the road before the impact; they later discovered she was looking at pictures on her smartphone’s Facebook app when the crash occurred. After obtaining a warrant to search Sletten’s phone, investigators also found she had sent text messages while driving, according to CNN.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drivers in their 20s make up 27 percent of the distracted drivers in fatal crashes.

Clint Davis is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @MrClintDavis.