No family wants to be in the position of having to contact a car accident lawyer after a tragic accident. However, that was the situation when Dylan Shields had his car set to cruise control while texting and taking selfies last year. His Honda Accord was traveling at 65 mph when it rear-ended another vehicle, causing a chain reaction that crashed into two additional cars. The accident caused one death and left at least one other driver injured.
The accident happened on January 19, 2021, during the afternoon. Shields was traveling North on northbound I-95; the crash happened right before exit 49A. The vehicle Shields collided with was being driven by 30-year-old Luke Souders, who died on the scene. Pennsylvanian Patrick Cavanaugh, 42-years-old, was also injured in the crash as a result of the chain reaction. Shields refused medical treatment after the accident.
During the subsequent investigation, police found Shields’ phone under his damaged Honda Accord. Once the phone was unlocked, police found evidence of what Shields had been doing before the accident. They found a recently taken photo of the man behind the wheel, as well as a partially-composed Snapchat message.
Further examination of digital records uncovered that Shields had been using multiple applications since leaving his workplace at Fort Meade. He was working as an NSA security guard at the time.
In the aftermath of the accident, Dylan Shields was charged with several counts. These included criminally negligent manslaughter and use of a hand-held device causing an accident that resulted in death. Earlier this month, Shields pleaded guilty to charges of vehicular manslaughter. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison on March 29th by Judge Dennis Robinson. However, all but six months of Shields’ sentence were suspended.
Shields will serve six months in prison for his crimes, and then he’ll serve two additional years of supervised probation. With the caveat that if Shields fails to abide by the terms of his probation, the state may revoke his suspended sentence. Meaning he would have to serve the 10 years sentence.
The family of the victim was present during the sentencing and they stated in an interview that they were satisfied with the sentencing. Even if it will never make up for their tremendous loss. Baltimore County State’s Attorney also spoke about the case.
“All automobile manslaughter cases are tragic but this one is particularly so,” he said. “All the defendant had to do was put the cellphone down, and Luke Souders would be with us today. Please when driving stay off your cellphone for the safety of others.”
Personal injury laws and the work of law firms like this one can help victims of such accidents get compensation for what happened. However, it is up to drivers to prevent accidents to begin with.