Text-messaging led to child's death

Published:

The Kentucky Enquirer,

Fort Mitchell

A Kenton County grand jurys refusal to indict text-messaging teen driver Jeremy Deming for the May 7 accident that killed 2-year-old Nhiem Jennings has left some questioning if justice was served.

Deming admitted at the scene to driving about 10 mph over the speed limit and text-messaging on his cell phone before hitting the boy, yet the Covington teen, now 19, seems to have gotten off without even a traffic ticket. He had faced a Class D felony charge of reckless homicide. This case is more proof Kentucky needs a lesser vehicular homicide charge such as Ohios negligent homicide statute. It also suggests the need for tougher laws against multitasking motorists.

There are some who argue Nhiems uncle or the uncles girlfriend were remiss in not keeping the youngster safe, and new legislation cannot be based on a single sad case. Deming and the Jennings family surely feel miserable about Nhiems death. But Kentucky juries should be given more options in vehicular death cases. Commonwealths attorney Bill Crockett had given the grand jury the option to indict on misdemeanor charges. They declined.

Jennings family members were stunned that Deming didnt even get his license suspended, but to their credit, they have not been calling for prison time. On May 7, Nhiem had followed two older children across the street, while the uncle and girlfriend were unloading the car. The girlfriend yelled when she saw Demings Mustang approaching, and Nhiem may have stumbled back off the curb into the path of the car. It carried the boy about 68 feet before stopping.

Deming will have to live with that memory the rest of his life. The county attorney could still seek a misdemeanor indictment but its unlikely. We hope, if nothing else, the case will persuade drivers to stop fooling with phones and other distractions while driving.

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