Fatal Crash Serves as Constant Reminder ‘Put Your Phone Down’
ST. CLOUD -- The mangled remains of a family's van now serves to drive home the point to put down your phone and focus on the road.
Crossroads Center played host to that van and a speaker who knew the two victims. Rhonda Maurer lost her uncle Chuck Maurer and cousin Cassy Maurer. She says her family's lives changed forever on July 21st, 2015.
"My uncle Chuck and cousin Cassy lost their lives after a Ford 150 smashed into [their van], while the driver was sending a Facebook message on their phone at 65 mph."
She describes both her uncle and cousin as the kind of people you want to know.
"He [Chuck] was there for you when you needed him, no matter what. Cassy was 10, she was so young, and had so much life ahead of her. She would brighten up any room by walking into it."
Rhonda Maurer says she is helping push for a "Hand Free" bill in Minnesota. While it's stuck in committee, she's working hard so other families don't experience the same heartbreak hers' did.
"Yes I am doing this in Chuck and Cassy's honor, but I'm also doing it for your family and friends. Minnesota needs to recognize this is an issue, and we need to do something about it."
The driver who killed Chuck and Cassy Maurer was charged criminally. The teen pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal vehicular homicide. Prosecutors said she ignored her friend's plea to stop texting and driving.
The teen will be on probation until she is 21. She also had to complete 240 hours of community service.
The Maurer's van will be on display at the Crossroads Center Mall until June 1.
The Minnesota State Patrol says between 2012 - 2016 there were 200 deaths and 900 injuries related to teen drivers.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.