Distracted Driver Swerves to Avoid Distracted Walker, Hits Distracted Runner


A local motorist looking at her smartphone barely avoided hitting a distracted pedestrian in a crosswalk yesterday, jerking the wheel at the last moment and instead hitting a distracted runner on the side of the road. 

Veronica Lake, 26, was driving east on Sullivan Drive when the incident occurred, authorities said. Lake was "scrolling through Instagram" and traveling about 30 mph, according to reports, when she "glanced up and saw an adult male in the street, approximately 20 feet away."

That man, Joel McCrea, 32, was also staring at his phone, authorities said, and was wearing earbuds as he crossed the street. He did not appear to hear Lake's vehicle approaching. Witnesses said McCrea was walking slowly—"more like a shuffle," said one—and frowning at his screen as he crossed.

A visibly panicked Lake swerved right and avoided hitting McCrea, witnesses said—but instead collided with a runner.

Authorities identified the runner as William Demarest, 40, and said he, too, was wearing earbuds and looking at his phone at the time. 

"We believe (Demarest) was searching his phone for a certain song," said a police spokesperson, "and he neither saw nor heard Ms. Lake's vehicle as it careered toward him and made contact."

An ambulance responding to the scene was totaled when its driver, who was texting to tell his wife he'd be home late, ran a stop sign and crashed into a dump truck, whose driver was also on his phone.

Another ambulance soon arrived, taking Demarest to a nearby hospital, where he was being treated for injuries including contusions, abrasions, and broken bones.

His smartphone was not damaged.

McCrea, the pedestrian, continued walking, presumably unaware that anything had happened. His whereabouts are unknown.

Police say Lake will not face charges.

"It's true that she should have been paying attention," said a spokesperson. "But, you know, the other guys should've too. So."

For her part, Lake said she's learned a lesson.

"I will definitely not be looking at Instagram anymore when I drive," she said. "Only at red lights. And when I'm, like, on the highway and traffic is really super slow. Times like that."