Attorney general made mistake in Prior death
As you know, my brother Kenny and his friend and co-worker Kathy Meunier were killed in a car crash caused by a teenage driver on the Newport Pell Bridge on the night of Oct. 21.
Since that tragic night my mother and family have been trying to learn the truth about what happened. With the help of our family attorney, John Murphy, and others, we have contacted the Rhode Island State Police and the attorney general’s office requesting a police and accident reconstruction report. We have waited over five months for the attorney general’s office to tell us the truth about the crash and bring charges against the driver.
Last week the attorney general’s office told us that the driver who caused the head-on crash and double fatality would not be criminally charged with reckless driving. Instead, he was allowed to plead guilty in traffic court last week for speeding (63 mph in a posted 40- mph zone) and crossing the centerline on the bridge. He was fined $385 for speeding and his license was suspended for six months.
We have talked to the eyewitnesses to the crash and have done our own investigation. We have seen a video of the crash taken from the bridge tower. We were told by the attorney general’s offi ce that the driver who caused the crash was traveling between 63 and 70 mph and Kathy’s car was traveling 38 mph. We were also told no drugs and alcohol were involved and there was no mechanical malfunction. We were also told that there were two cellphones in the car and that one of the two teens was texting with a girlfriend from the time the boys left a football game until moments before the crash. We were also told that the two boys do not remember anything and that the police believe the passenger was texting, but they cannot prove the driver was texting.
Texting, which is defined under state law as sending, receiving or reviewing a text message, is illegal if you are driving. The use of a cellphone in a car by a teen driver under the age of 18 is also illegal.
The facts presented to us by the attorney general’s office are these: The driver was traveling east at night going at least 63 mph; the posted speed limit on the bridge is 40 mph; the driver drove his car across the double yellow line and two lanes of opposing traffic, smashing head on into Kathy’s car; the driver never applied his brakes or attempted to return to the correct lane; the driver hit Kathy’s car head on without slowing down; Kathy and Kenny were traveling westbound on the way home from work in the far right lane within the posted speed limit.
Based upon the facts, as represented to us by the attorney general’s office, the attorney general has refused to charge the driver with reckless driving.
My family is disappointed that the Rhode Island State Police and the attorney general have refused to bring reckless driving charges where we believe they are warranted. Kathy is survived by her husband Richard and her 7-yearold daughter. Both the Prior and Meunier families are baffled and distressed by this decision by Rhode Island law enforcement.
We know that the people of Jamestown, who knew and loved Kenny, have been waiting to learn the outcome of this tragic case.
My family wants you to know all of the information that has been presented to us by law enforcement. We all want the truth and we want a just resolution to this case. We also have compassion for the boys who were injured in the crash and their family. We have prayed every day for their full recovery.
Most important of all, my mother and my family want you to know how appreciative and grateful we are to all of you for your concern, your compassion and your love and support during these last five months. Your kindness and generosity have been overwhelming. We are very thankful for all you have done in Kenny’s memory. You remind us everyday of the goodness of the people of Jamestown.
H. David Prior