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Authorities: Texting led to fatal crash involving teens


A local teen is accused of texting while driving before he was involved in a head-on collision that killed a 19-year-old Chappell girl last month.

Hayden Graham, 16 of Sidney, was traveling west on Highway 30 about five miles east of Sidney when he allegedly crossed the center line and hit Karman Reichman on July 31, according to the sheriff’s office.

When law enforcement arrived on scene, Graham had exited the Jeep Liberty he was driving. Reichman was pinned inside her four-door sedan. Both vehicles sustained front-end damage.

Graham was taken to Sidney Regional Medical Center for minor injuries. The Sidney Volunteer Fire Department and Emergency Response Care worked together to extricate Reichman from her vehicle. She was flown to Regional West Medical Center in Scottsbluff, where she died about 3:30 a.m. on Aug. 1.

Prior to the accident, Graham had attended the Cheyenne County fair with his younger brother and a friend. Afterward, Graham dropped his brother off at home and then took his friend, who lives in Chappell, to his residence. Graham was returning to Sidney when the crash took place.

Although Graham said he couldn’t remember what happened just before the wreck, he admitted to law enforcement that he had been texting on his drive back to Sidney. He said he couldn’t remember if he was doing so just prior to the wreck, Graham allegedly told law enforcement.

Graham’s cell phone – an iPhone – was taken into evidence. Graham had last sent a text message at 11:31 p.m. on the night of the wreck and last received a message at 11:33 p.m., according to the incident report. The last message that Graham received had not been opened and read. Graham called 911 at 11:35 p.m.

Graham allegedly told law enforcement that he was knocked unconscious just after the wreck. When Graham regained consciousness, he retrieved his phone from his vehicle and called 911, according to the incident report.

A petition filed in Cheyenne County juvenile court on Tuesday charged Graham with allegations of motor vehicular homicide, driving left of center, use of a handheld wireless communication device while driving and use of a handheld wireless communication device in violation of a provisional operator’s permit. The court appointed local attorney Tom Sonntag to represent Graham, who is scheduled for his first appearance in court on Sept. 3 at 4 p.m.

The Cheyenne County sheriff’s department and Nebraska State Patrol reconstructed the accident using the cars involved in the wreck.


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