Today’s tweet from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety — and the accompanying picture of Megan Goeltz — is about as infuriating as it gets.
Today would have been Megan Goeltz's 25th birthday. The young mom was pregnant with her 2nd child when she was killed by a distracted driver. The next time you think about driving distracted, think of Megan and what could happen. Distracted driving has real consequences. pic.twitter.com/TswItjKTtu
— MN Traffic Safety (@MnDPS_OTS) February 19, 2019
One gets the sense that the tweet wanted to say more than it legally (and perhaps, ethically) could.
Something like: The guy who killed Megan pretty much got away with it. That’s why the tweet, and public service campaigns, are appealing to your humanity, asking you to take a long look at that picture to convince you not to look at your phone when you should be driving. Because the threat of hard time for killing someone while driving distracted in Minnesota is non-existent and isn’t a deterrent.
It took almost three years before Drew Fleming of North Hudson, Wis., was sentenced for the February 29, 2016 crash in West Lakeland Township.
He acknowledged in testimony that he may have been on his phone at the time of the crash, but the phone records didn’t match up. And the cops botched the procedures that otherwise might have made evidence of the drugs he was on admissible in court.
Fleming was charged only with reckless driving, and after pleading guilty to the gross misdemeanor, he skated on the one-year sentence he could’ve gotten when the judge gave him 180-days in jail, allowing him to go to college during the day, but spend nights in jail, the last portion of which is delayed until 2020.
Megan’s father, Tom, is one of those who’ve been at the Minnesota Capitol, trying to get tougher sentences for distracted drivers.
“Is that justice?” he asked after his daughter’s killer was sentenced. “I don’t think so.”
It is an old and familiar story in Minnesota. When it comes to preventing distracted driving, nothing seems to be working.