UPDATED: Kaitlyn Dunaway Faces One-Year Maximum Imprisonment for Misdemeanor Vehicular Manslaughter

The Sonoma State Student struck and killed 2-year-old Calli Ann Murray while walking with her mother Ling in the crosswalk near Sunrise Park in Rohnert Park Dec 1.

A Rohnert Park teen, in a Rohnert Park crosswalk while allegedly sending a text message on her phone, was charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter today.

Kaitlyn Dunaway, 18, allegedly caused the death of Calli Murray by texting while driving, driving at an unsafe speed for the conditions and failing to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch said.

Ravitch said a misdemeanor charge was filed because the alleged driving offenses do not amount to felonies.

The accident has garnered a storm of media coverage, specifically because a band of Rohnert Park residents say the issue is bigger than the tragic death of a little girl. , and they want .

"The enrie law enforcement community is concerned about getting the message out that drivers shouldn’t text and drive," said Assistant District Attorney Christine Cook. "What seems like a few seconds of distraction can have lasting impact and can result in tragedy."

Dunaway, a Sonoma State University student, was issued a citation to appear in Sonoma County Superior Court at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Ravitch said. 

According to Cook, Dunaway faces a maximum of one year imprisonment.

The collision at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 1 also injured the girl's mother, Ling Murray, 42, who also was in the crosswalk at Snyder Lane and Medical Center Drive in Rohnert Park.

She suffered major injuries and was in a hospital, then a rehabilitation facility, until early March.

"This is a tragic case," Ravitch said in a news release. "The Murrays will forever mourn the loss of their young daughter."

Ravitch said Dunaway is presumed innocent unless and until she is proven guilty.

"Without regard to the facts or outcome of this case, it bears repeating that driving while texting is a dangerous and real threat to every member of our community. Drivers, passengers and bystanders are all at risk," Ravitch said.

Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety Sgt. Jeff Nicks said in December that Dunaway acknowledged she was using her Verizon phone at the time of the collision but she was unsure if she was texting or talking on the phone.

A headset that would have enabled hands-free phone use was not found in Dunaway's 1997 Honda, Nicks said.

Murray and her daughter were returning to their Rohnert Park home from nearby Sunrise Park. They were walking east on Snyder Lane in the crosswalk approximately 11 feet from the curb when they were struck by the Honda on their left, Nicks said.

Nicks said speed was not a factor in the crash.

Dunaway, a freshman, was returning to Sonoma State University after visiting her mother's home and was devastated after the crash, Nicks said.

Jeff Murray simply said "finally" on his Facebook page today after news broke. 

This article is by Angela Hart and Bay City News. Copyright © 2011 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

Stephen Kirschenmann July 25, 2011 at 06:53 AM
This isn't "worse than a DUI." If you're going to drink, you need to make plans ahead of time to drive. There's a much more thought and time put into your night of drinking and potentially driving than sending a text for 20 seconds.
Stephen Kirschenmann July 25, 2011 at 06:55 AM
"Calli's death should be a wake up call to all the students of Rohnert Park." Seriously? What does this have to do with students of Rohnert Park? Yes, she was a student at SSU, but that seems pretty judgmental of you to think that ALL students of RP are driving through crosswalks while texting. Maybe this should be a wake up call to people WALKING through unguarded crosswalks, too.
Stephen Kirschenmann July 25, 2011 at 06:57 AM
1.) Race has NOTHING to do with this. 2.) Her actions outside of school should have no reflection upon her academic standing at a public school. 3.) She's NOT getting away with MANSLAUGHTER, which is different than murder. There has been no conviction yet. She STILL may serve time in jail. 4.) Both of them had/have lives ahead of them. Don't discount Dunaway's life just yet.
Stephen Kirschenmann July 25, 2011 at 06:58 AM
She disgusts you? She broke a minor driving law that doesn't even result in a moving violation. I'm sure you never break any of those laws either because you're prefect.
Stephen Kirschenmann July 25, 2011 at 07:02 AM
Thank you Troy. I'm really tired of people blaming other people for their mistakes. Murray and Dunaway are both responsible in this situation. It's up to the judicial system to determine the sentences, but that doesn't really matter, does it? You need to be able to watch out for yourself if you're crossing an unguarded crosswalk, however that doesn't alleviate Dunaway from her responsibility. You have to respect the fact that there's a piece of metal that weighs 4000 pounds coming at you. Look around.


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