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Pedestrian, 53, killed in West Allis

Police suspect driver in fatal crash may have been texting

Dec. 04, 2010
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By Annysa Johnson of the Journal Sentinel

Dec. 04, 2010 0

West Allis police are investigating whether texting played a role in the death of a 53-year-old woman who was struck and killed while crossing the street at S. 97th St. and W. National Ave., according to a report by the Milwaukee County medical examiner's office.

The fatality came Friday, two days after a state ban on texting while driving took effect.

Linda Lee Zyduck of West Allis died after being struck by a 19-year-old Muskego woman around 5 p.m., according to police.

West Allis Police Chief Michael Jungbluth said inattentive driving may have been a factor. But the medical examiner's report said police suspected the driver might have been texting.

According to the report, officers examined the woman's cell phone and found a text, either sent or received, just minutes before the collision, and a second partially finished text, though the timing of that message was not specified.

The woman told police she didn't see Zyduck and didn't realize what she'd hit.

Police issued a statement Saturday saying alcohol and speed did not appear to be factors, but the department was investigating all possibilities, including inattentive driving.

Jungbluth would not confirm that texting was being investigated, saying it's difficult to say early on whether a driver is texting or dialing a telephone.

According to the report, Zyduck, who used a walker, had just gotten off a bus at the northeast corner and was making her way south across W. National Ave. when she was struck in the right-hand eastbound lane.

Jungbluth said the accident remains under investigation, and it could take "quite a while" to complete. He declined to identify the driver.

In addition to any other charges, the driver could face a penalty under the new state law that took effect Wednesday, if police determine that she was texting while driving.

The law makes it illegal to drive any motor vehicle while composing or sending an electronic text or mail message. The citation can cost drivers up to $400 and four points on their driver's licenses.

About Annysa Johnson

Annysa Johnson covers K-12 education in southeastern Wisconsin.

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