Judge: No video of texting driver

By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal

NEW ALBANY – A video showing the driver of a tractor-trailer texting during the seconds leading up to a fatal wreck was kept from public view Tuesday by Circuit Court Judge Andrew Howorth.
Marcus Hardin, a driver for Pat Salmon & Sons Inc. of North Little Rock, Ark., crashed into the truck of Dwight White who was stopped in traffic on Highway 78 near the Auburn Road exit east of Tupelo on the morning of April 9, 2011.
Hardin and White died as a result of the crash.
White’s wife and daughters filed a wrongful death lawsuit seeking damages.
They asked the court to release the video and the defendants, Pat Salmon & Sons Inc., urged the video remain confidential while admitting liability in the accident.
Carl Wyatt, defense attorney, said making the video public will cause undeserved embarrassment to Hardin’s family.
Hardin is survived by his wife and five children who live in Marshall County where the case is being tried and the video would be shown.
Wyatt also argued the plaintiffs will suffer no real prejudice or damage if the video is protected.
William Quinn, the plaintiffs’ attorney, asked Misty West, White’s daughter, to tell the judge why they want the video made public.
West said she would like to use the video to educate drivers on the dangers of distracted driving and to push for distracted driving legislation in the Legislature.
Sen. Nancy Collins, R-Tupelo, introduced a bill that would have banned texting while driving in the last legislative session and said she plans to reintroduce the bill in 2013.
Howorth said while there is public interest in the problem of distracted driving, he doesn’t think the video should be seen publicly before the case is tried.
Howorth granted an order preventing pretrial release of the video.
The trial date has not been decided.
jb.clark@journalinc.com