Victim of alleged distracted driver gets no satisfaction from the system

It’s hard not to sympathize with Laura Berg’s disinterest in forgiving Jordan Paulus, 20, of East Bethel, Minn., who ruined Berg’s life.

“I’ve never felt this way about other people, but I hate her,” Berg tells Fox 9 News. “I look at the scars every day and I see them and I hate her.”

Paulus was allegedly on her phone when she plowed into Berg near Seventh Avenue in East Bethel. Cars in front of her were stopped in a construction zone, Paulus didn’t want to hit them so she swerved, hitting Berg, who was holding a slow/stop sign.

Berg was in a coma for two months.

“The thing that gets me is that she hasn’t even tried to apologize,” said Berg.

Paulus, like many people initially suspected of looking at phones while driving, is getting a break from the justice system.

The Anoka County attorney says he’s not going to press felony charges because he can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Paulus was on her phone and driving in a grossly negligent manner.

“I was like, ‘Are you related to her? What’s going on? Is it because I’m Mexican?’ She should be charged!” said Berg, who faces more surgery this month, according to Fox 9.

“In other states there’s signs saying if you hit a construction worker, this is how much you’re going to get charged, and this is how many years you’re going to get,” said Berg. “So, something has to change here.”

The county attorney says he still might charge Paulus with reckless driving.

Related carnage: Mother of two children who died in southeastern Minnesota crash had died in crash 2 years ago (Globe)

  • EarthToBobby

    From the story: “Palumbo says because Paulus didn’t lose control of her car, wasn’t speeding, or under the influence – she won’t be charged with a felony.”

    She wasn’t driving in a manner that allowed her to stop safely.

    • “She wasn’t driving in a manner that allowed her to stop safely.” Which to me means that she wasn’t in control of the car. You don’t have to be intoxicated or speeding to lose control.

      • EarthToBobby

        Exactly.

    • “Palumbo says because Paulus didn’t lose control of her car, wasn’t speeding, or under the influence – she won’t be charged with a felony.”

      Using this logic for the highlighted text, Paulus deliberately hit Berg with her car.

  • Jim in RF

    Small-town justice can be very spotty.

  • Al

    “Is it because I’m Mexican?”

    I hate the world some days. I hate that this is even a [very legitimate] thought.

    • Barton

      Agree, but in this case I am sure it isn’t because she is a Mexican. Drivers in this country are rarely held to account for their actions. It doesn’t seem to matter the background of the victim, it only matters that the perpetrator had A Motor Vehicle. That privilege trumps all else.

      • BJ

        Amy Senser got 6 months of work release 41 months , and some probation, for killing someone with her car.

        • Jim in RF

          My recollection is she did some prison time.

        • Not true. She got 41 months in prison. It was reduced by 6 months later with work release. She’s on probation. Her driver’s license was revoked.

          As these sorts of things go, she got a comparatively stiff sentence compared to most driver v. pedestian incidents.

          • Rob

            Sad to think three years for snuffing someone is considered a stiff sentence…

          • Maybe. I’d have to hear from someone who’s been incarcerated to know what’s a stiff sentence and what’s not. I still feel like a horrible person for missing my kid’s 4th birthday.

          • Rob

            Your mileage may vary, but three years behind bars for killing someone shouts “life is cheap” to me. Not sure what missing your kid’s birthday has to do with it.

          • It has to do with missing your kids growing up if you’re in prison even for two years. I’m relaying that I missed one day and can barely forgive myself. so I ‘m saying the idea that being away from your family for two years ain’t exactly nothing, though I realize it can appear that way to anyone who hasn’t had to be.

          • Rob

            If you ran someone over because you were driving inattentively or worse, the fact that you’d miss some quality time with your kids because you got jail time for the offense would, on the justice scale, matter not a whit. Nor should it.

          • What is a proper sentence. The purpose of prison is to deny freedom, the freedom to live a normal life. To say the deprivation of normalcy doesn’t matter seems illogical since that’s the whole idea.

          • BJ

            oops thought it was only six months. It was a while ago.

    • Rob

      This will make you feel better: “Minneapolis daaycare provider gets probation for hanging baby.”

      • Be careful on that one. There’s some complexity there. I realize the headlines play to the “string ’em up crowd”, but there’s a lot to unpack there including the fact that the victims parents were in favor of leniency for a reason.

        • TBH

          I was a jury member in early May on a multiple felony case in Judge Jay Quam’s courtroom. For what it is worth, he ran a great courtroom and brought us donuts for 4 out of the 5 days. Seemed like a great man.

  • Angela Ferrara

    So distracted driving isn’t a crime?

    • jon

      Oh, it’s a crime… it’s just that proving it is hard, and life is cheap.

      But the police will still happily ticket and fine people for distracted driving, got to get the funds in some how.

  • AL287

    Being the driver was under 25, she was more concerned with her insurance premiums going up than nearly killing a sign holder for MNDOT.

    Her car was a deadly weapon as it usually is in cases of distracted driving.

    I find it rather hard to believe the woman was not on her cell phone and that it can’t be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

    From the Star Tribune, Aug 2, 2017

    “Paulus told authorities she was looking at her phone as she drove west
    on 237th Avenue. At the last second, she saw the stopped traffic and
    swerved to the right to avoid hitting the car in front of her. She
    steered onto the shoulder, where she struck Silva.”

    I rest my case.

    Driving requires your full attention and contrary to popular belief, your brain can only focus on one task at a time.

    How many more people must die or be handicapped for life before we ban the use of cell phones in cars?

    Life sure is cheap in Anoka County.

  • mnboy67

    I commute by bus into downtown Minneapolis every day. I routinely see people in cars next to the bus on their phones, reading text messages, email, Facebook posts EVERY DAY! This of course is even in the ripped up construction on 35w south of downtown so obviously it being a construction zone still does not make a difference. Also, age does not seem to matter as I see all ages of drivers doing this (mind you all pretty much under 70 give or take). Unless the legislature mandates no cell phone use in cars AND police actually enforce it this is only going to get worse.

    • joetron2030

      I’d like to present the following that I saw with my own two eyes:

      Stopped at a light in a line of cars to make a left turn. Sign for turn lane indicates it’s a no U-turn intersection. Turn left light goes green. Car at the front makes a U-turn. Car two behind that driver is a POLICE CAR and the office doesn’t notice the U-turn because the officer is busy looking at the laptop in his squad while driving.

      Me: Wondering if I should complain to the local PD dept or if that’s just asking to be the victim of “targeted” enforcement for ratting out a member of the local PD.

  • Jeff

    I seriously doubt a punishment (if there is any) would do anything to reduce distracted driving. So it comes down to punishment as a means of making us feel better or what?

    • Prison sentences haven’t stopped people from murdering anyone, but we send people to prison anyway. Maybe the criminal justice system should be about justice and not sending a message.

      • king harvest

        I think the system needs to send the message that it is unacceptable to use a cell phone while driving.
        What would justice look like in this case? Perhaps requiring the driver to act as the victims caregiver?

      • Paul Drake

        What would justice for Mrs Berg look like? A maudlin apology from Ms Paulus and some jail time?

        • I think “I’m sorry” would be a minimal blip on the decency scale. But it’s better than nothing.

      • Jeff

        Yes, some people go on about deterrence but it’s really about vengeance. That somehow punishment will make up for the wrong, but it really doesn’t change anything, just makes us feel better.

    • Jim in RF

      If prison sentences (or execution) was really about deterrence instead of retribution, there’d be no homicides in Texas. The penal system is 95% retribution, 3% get them off the streets, and maybe 2% rehabilitation.

      • Jeff

        That sounds about right.

  • Texting is not just a “teen” problem. There are millions of employees in company cars and fleet vehicles who try to “multi-task” behind the wheel.
    While many states seek to lower distracted driving by increasing penalties, fees and regulations, there is another option. There are anti-texting apps, like AT&T DriveMode which is FREE!
    One area that is rarely discussed is that each state has thousands of government vehicles that inspectors, regulators and the agricultural department use as fleet vehicles, but they do not have the technology to diminish distracted driving. I would love to see one state lead by example and use a program, like FleetMode, to block texts, redirect incoming phone calls, and impede all other apps in the State vehicles. If we want our state roads to be safer, let’s start by making our state vehicles safer.

  • Stacy

    And Jordan Paulus has set up a go fund me account for herself…