Suit: Motorist Updating Facebook During Fatal Crash

CHICAGO (STMW) – The family of a pedestrian fatally struck by a vehicle on the South Side in December filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the motorist, claiming she was updating her Facebook page on a cell phone when the crash happened.

Motorist Araceli Beas was updating her Facebook page on her mobile phone while driving when she fatally struck pedestrian Raymond Veloz at 7:54 a.m. Dec. 7, 2010, at 9220 S. Ewing Ave., according to a suit filed in Cook County Circuit Court.

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Veloz, 70, of the 8300 block of South Baker Avenue, was pronounced dead at 9:13 a.m. Dec. 7, 2010, at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

The suit claims Veloz had exited his vehicle after getting into an accident with Allen Barbour. He was standing near Barbour’s vehicle exchanging information when struck by Beas’ vehicle, the suit said.

Police said two eastbound vehicles were involved in a minor accident and both drivers were exchanging information when a third eastbound vehicle fatally struck one of the motorists.

The drivers in both accidents told police the sun temporarily impaired their vision when the crashes happened, police News Affairs Officer Darryl Baety said.

The driver, identified in the lawsuit as Beas, was ticketed for striking a pedestrian in the roadway, Baety said.

The suit, filed by Veloz’ daughter, Regina Cabrales, claims Beas didn’t keep a proper lookout, drove while using an electronic communication device and failed to slow down to avoid an accident.

Beas could not immediately be reached for comment.

The two-count suit is seeking unspecified judgment against Beas.

© Sun-Times Media Wire Chicago Sun-Times 2011. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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  • Gerald Spencer

    People say that being self-centered, that being shallow is perfectly okay. I disagree but look at how much of it there is! Thank you, television, for making it okay to be pretty pretty princess and the heck with the rest of the world.

    • Dan

      Blame the right people Jerry. Parents first….second….and lastly. Typical of some to blame inanimate objects instead of the parents. So Jerry, does the TV turn itself on?

      • Bryan

        You are correct.

      • jnsesq

        What parents? This is Chicago.

  • Joliet Jake

    Another stupid idiot — behind the wheel!

  • vetteman

    “But I thought that only texting while driving was not OK.” Time for common sense testing at the DMV

    • rcactus

      First, you’d have to hire people at the DMV with common sense for that to work effectively.

  • Gibbs Bentley

    “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.” ~ Will Durant

    • Roger

      Gibbs – Hopefully Ms. Beas is not representive of what makes a great civilization. Let’s hope she is an “outlier”.,

      • Deskboy

        Don’t count on it.

      • Frank

        Roger – I fear that she isn’t an outlier. I see many many people texting while driving. Stupid. And if you get into a wreck a simple check of your account will provide all the material the lawyers need to squeeze the life out of you bank account.

  • Maximus

    Whatever thins the herd.

    • Truth

      I would agree if it was ‘ms.’ Beas who had left us and not an innocent old man, perhaps you should re-read the story?

      • NoahFingWhey

        Maybe he was an innocent 70 yr old man but he was already on the Obama care list for end of life counseling. Somewhere a DC bureaucrat breathed a sigh of relief that there was now one less person to spend tax dollars for healthcare.

  • Emerald

    If you have a cell phone in your car now, they will blame it and sue you for damages. You had two accidents caused by poor visibility due to the sun at the same spot. I hope they have solid proof that it was the cell phone in the second accident else if found guilty we have a whole new area of frivolous lawsuits to worry about.

    • elda

      I would like to know why the two from the first accident did not get out of the road to exchange information. They knew the sun was causing vizability issues at that spot. Get out of the road!

    • senna

      Emerald — this is not so. In a situation such as this, I’m sure that the phone would be checked to see if texting/fb’ing, etc. was going on at the time. In the near future, with the rapid spread of texting, I’m sure this will become (if it isn’t already) SOP.

      • Emerald

        And that’s pure speculation at this point. It’s just a suit brought by the family that is making that claim. The facts are not out and the comment section is already lighting the torches. Which is my point.

    • Sherry

      I agree. Now if you have a cell phone in your car, you are going to get blamed. How do they know she didn’t update her facebook status at the red light before the accident, or while parked in a parking lot? How do they know for a fact that she was driving while updating?

      • Frank

        Hi Sherry – It’s a simple matter of pulling the facebook activity records to know what was going on at the time of the accident.

      • noneofyourbusiness

        cameras are everywhere now. Time of accident was recorded and facebook record was pulled. PRISON time is in order.
        Facebook is the devils tool anyway (along with employers, government, and marketing agencies) so best not to get addicted to it.

      • Russ

        Because she was a woman, driving a car with a cell phone in her hand. Simple as that.

    • noun

      STFU. She killed an innocent man b/c she had zero situational awareness.

  • Ben

    I’ll assume it was the Allah version of Facebook………..

    • Paul

      Just a stupid, racist thing to say. Someone died here. Is it time for a joke? You’re part of the problem.

      • Ar Amytas

        IF ANYONE says ANYTHING that someone doesn’t like they call them a racist!!! I’m sick and tired of hearing the term. I believe that I am a racist STRICTLY because, Why not!! Be a racist MAKE a decision

      • Racistreally?

        It is certainly a bigoted thing to say, but not racist. What about being Muslim is uncontrollable for the practitioner? You are born with your skin color, you choose your religion.

  • joonathan

    Wait this is bs . . . This is just the claim of the victim’s family . . . There’s no evidence this was actually even the case.

    • Derek Joseph Samms

      Thank you. Let’s try not to judge a stranger so harshly with such little information!

    • JoeMama

      Are you the judge in the case, or are you basing that idiotic statement solely on this article? Of course she has evidence, it’s not that hard to search her facebook page and get that kind of information. She’s probably one of those idiots that shares her FB page with the world.

  • Andrew

    I love how they have a link to connect this story to your facebook, while were talking about someone dying as a result of facebook, I-R-O-N-Y

    • noun

      No, that is coincidence. It would be ironic if someone killed a pedestrian while updating FB w/ this article.

      • Clarity

        Ha! Good one!

  • Welrdelr

    Too many guilty until proven innocent comments. If the driver was driving into the rising sun the accident could have been something that could happen to anyone. .

    • GW

      To Welrdelr:
      If you can’t see where the hell you are driving – you SLOW DOWN, shield your eyes, whatever it takes to NOT KILL SOMEONE.
      Nobody watches out for anyone else in this selfish pigfest society !
      Or just plow ahead minding your own fricking business and – oh well, not my fault….?

      • elda

        If you slow down you become a hazard to those with clean windshields that can see.

    • noun

      If she couldn’t see well, she should have slowed way down. You wouldn’t know this unless you’ve stopped your car to help someone in need. Try it sometime and you’ll see how careless drivers can be.

      • verb

        so how fast was she going when she hit the pedestrian? That’s what I thought

    • g mack

      “Too many guilty until proven innocent comments.”

      LOL. No – too may silly oversensitive comments. That’s what a comments section is for; it’s here so people can give their opinions. They can say “awwww, poor baby is sooo misunderstood, sniff, sob.” or “string the killer up”. Doesn’t matter either way, anyway. Welcome to the internet & the marketplace of opinions!

  • bill

    He was standing in the middle of the road, during rush hour traffic, in a busy metro area? Looks like another nominee for the Darwin Awards. Just another stupid lawsuit that will end up costing the half of us that actually pay taxes.

    • Dave

      Too old for Darwin award. They have to be removed from the gene pool while the likelihood for reproduction is still good.

  • trackwalkman

    Facebook is going to kill us all!..”KILL US All” I tell you!!. Buuaaa ha ha ha ha!
    may the force, I mean, “facebook” be with you….then again, well all could have an arch nemesis like tron… through the matrix of our own existence…

  • magnus13

    It’s Bush’s fault

    • Bryan

      That goes without saying.

  • Chris

    The kicker is that you can login with Facebook.

  • FryeDaddy

    You know people, just because the accusation is written into a suit does not make it true. For that to be accurate, society would have to believe every ambulance-chasing, personal injury attorney in America.

    Now, it could be true but it appears the deceased’s initial collision was caused by bright glare so it is plausible that the last driver was suffering from same event.

    If the personal injury attorney were to state glare was contributing factor then they would have to admit their client suffered from same problem. This would risk a jury finding comparative negligence.

    • Scott

      FryeDaddy – What the hell of “comparative” negligence?!? Do you mean contributory negligence?

      • Stimple Doodle

        FryeDaddy jusy likes big words, relevance or correct usage is not important.

  • Hank Warren

    Texting while driving, yet another violation of our rights. Add it to the list of gov’t violations of our right:
    They violate the 1st Amendment by placing protesters in cages, banning books like “America Deceived II” and censoring the internet.
    They violate the 2nd Amendment by confiscating guns.
    They violate the 4th and 5th Amendment by molesting airline passengers.
    They violate the entire Constitution by starting undeclared wars for foreign countries.
    Impeach Obama and sweep out the Congress, except Ron Paul.
    (Last link of Banned Book):

    • Paul

      You’re an idiot!

      • JacintoKid

        He knows that. He’s a Ron Paul supporter. Probably a “twoofer” too. I bet he stalks that cult weirdo Alex Jones and picks things out of his trash for sexual gratification.

      • Charles54

        He is an idiot why???? because he disagrees with obama….. wow, u libs are soooooo accepting, as long as one votes the same way as u. Thanks for putting this idiot in office…

      • SpellingIzHawrd

        It’s only fair after 8 years of stupid you gave the world.

      • Russ

        Hey, “SpellingIzHawrd”, after eight years, Bush left office and gas was $1.80 a gallon. After two years of being led by a neighborhood organizer, gas is nearly twice as expensive. Put that in your tank, if you can afford to.

      • FargoUT

        Hey Russ, gasoline jumped to over $4/gallon under Bush in my state of Utah, and that was one of the cheaper rates in the country. However, it wasn’t Bush’s fault. It was due to worldwide turmoil that caused the spike in gas. It also isn’t Obama’s fault that it’s over $3/gallon currently. The POTUS has very little to do with the price of gasoline.

  • Charles54

    This is where the Chinese solution should be considered….take her out to the back yard, administer a 9mm to the back of the head and send a bill for the bullet to her family.

  • purple

    wait, how did they figure out the driver was on facebook? what, did he/she admit to the cop ‘hey i was on facebook updating my status when i hit him, my bad’. or are we just assuming this?

    • Bliss

      It’s called cell phone usage records…

      • bill

        You do realize that cell phone usage is extremely suspect in internet apps right? When logged on, noone can tell if you are actually doing anything and it shows usage all the time until you log off. Even texts are supect because when it’s sent and the actual time the person was texting can be way off due to coverage issues.

      • z cooler

        @ bill “You do realize that cell phone usage is extremely suspect in internet apps right?”

        Bill, if a person is updating their FB status that gives a fixed time that can be easily checked via Facebook records.

      • FargoUT

        z cooler: True, but logically an accident would occur BEFORE someone hits ‘SUBMIT’ on their status update or text message. The ‘SUBMIT’ is the least worrisome part of the message, since once you send the message, your eyes are free to resume their primary job of watching while driving.

        I don’t know if she was texting or updating her status message, but timestamps probably won’t prove it either way. Unless the Facebook app stores live up-to-the-millisecond logs of what someone is doing (which is probably extremely unlikely), this will probably be thrown out.

  • Czechbikr

    The driver should serve hard time for destroying a life through utter carelessness. Unfortunately, Facebook and the cell phone manufacturer will also get sued for making it possible for this dolt to kill someone.

  • Jim Bob Belli III

    Use of a cell phone is tracked with a time stamp. If the driver was using the phone then it should be an open and shut case.

    • sherry

      Isn’t the time stamp pinged by the nearest tower? So between the seconds here and the seconds there and when they say the accident happened (who actually looks at their watch when an accident happens and then says “mark”)… there could be plausible missing time.

      Of course maybe the driver was updating at the time…. but maybe not too.

  • -db-

    jeez, purple (?) … if you’ve ever used facebook,
    it timestamps everything you do.

  • steve

    narcissism…what was her status, “driving to store” wow, the world was tilting on edge to hear that news…Facebook is the never ending Christmas letter that narcissistic people send out, now they can do it all year, good grief, get a life.

    • Momma

      Hey, I like people’s Christmas letters, getting to hear about what’s going on with their kids, and getting a verbal snapshot of what life was like over the year. But texting while driving is a vile, stupid act of narcissism. Don’t care if the sun was bright — that’s like blaming road conditions when driving drunk. Can’t think of a stupider reason to waste a human being’s life than to update a facebook account.

  • Sherry

    Now if you have a cell phone in your car, you are going to get blamed for using it while driving, whether that actually happened or not. How do they know she didn’t update her facebook status at the red light before the accident, or while parked in a parking lot? How do they know for a fact that she was driving while updating? My heart goes out to the victim’s family. Yes a man died. That is horrible.

    How do they know for a fact the driver was typing on facebook WHILE the accident happened? How many of you text at red lights? Pull over and text? The driver may have updated while at a stop and then the accident happened.

    How many of you refresh a page on your iphone or ipad while at a red light and then put the phone or ipad down while driving? How many of you refresh your page while in a parking lot, put the device down and drive, then pick it back up at the next stop?

    VERY GREY AREA here…


    • FargoUT

      Good points. I think most people, even those of us who know better, often check Facebook on their smartphone at a red light. I know I’ve done it on occasion. But this will be a hard case to prove, since the biggest risk comes not from sending the message (which is when a timestamp will be given to a text), but in the reading/composing of the message. Unless the actual composition is timestamped (highly unlikely), it’ll be hard to prove her attention was held by her phone.

      In fact, now that I have a smartphone, I’ve become far more aware of how easy it is to avoid eye contact with the road. Even just to change a song on my phone usually requires me to look at it. I try to avoid touching my phone at all when I’m moving. Hell, I’ll let calls go to VM before answering if it requires taking my eyes off the road.

      It is a very grey area… let’s put away the torches (and the phones!)

    • Momma

      Spoken like someone who routinely endangers others by texting-while-driving. “OMG, this trffc sux.” Yeah, sounds like a scintillating conversation worthy of distracting your attention.

      Drunk drivers used to make excuses, too. “I know my limits,” “I was only 2 blocks from my home,” blah blah blah. Don’t wanna hear it. If you’re texting, and someone dies, you have broken your social contract, you have broken faith with the civilized world, you need to spend the rest of your life in prison.

  • stace

    they must have some evidence that she was updating status hence the suit

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