Texting Teen Who Got Light Sentence Now Headed to Jail
By WDAF’s Michelle Pekarsky and Robert Townsend
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) — A teenager sentenced in May to probation for causing a fatal accident because she was texting and driving has violated her probation and will now go to jail, according to authorities.
In May, Rachel Gannon told a courtroom that not a day goes by that she doesn’t think about the death of 72-year-old Loretta Larimer, who was killed a year ago when the Platte County teenager lost control of her vehicle while texting and struck Larimer’s oncoming vehicle head-on on N.W. Skyview Road.
Gannon, now 17, was given five years probation and sentenced to 48 hours of “shock time” in the Platte County jail. She also had to do community service work and surrender her license.
On Thursday, a judge ruled Gannon violated the rules of her probation by, among other things, hosting a party where she served and drank alcohol. Gannon will serve a year in jail but will be allowed out during the day to go to high school.
At the time of her sentencing, Larimer’s family was happy that Gannon wasn’t going to jail.
“I didn’t want to see this young girl go to prison or anything like that,” said Larimer’s son, John Larimer back in May. “I think it would have been very negative, very detrimental.”
Now, the Larimer family says that they are shocked and stunned by the new developments in the Gannon case.
“I’m very upset,” said John Gannon on Friday. “I’m disappointed because it was a senseless and tragic death from the beginning.”
Another son, Mike Larimer, says that he’s angry.
“I felt like she didn’t take any of this serious enough,” said Mike Larimer.
Gannon, who was certified to stand trial as an adult, could have been sentenced to four years in prison if convicted of involuntary manslaughter and third-degree assault. Before sentencing on Thursday, Rachel Gannon pleaded guilty to all three charges.
The Platte County judge did not sentence Gannon to the more serious charges of involuntary manslaughter and third-degree assault. Instead, the judge sentenced her on the lesser charge of texting while driving.
The judge also ruled in May that if Gannon completed her probation without any additional problems, the charges would be removed from her criminal record.
Under Missouri law, texting while driving is only a crime for drivers under age 21.
A 10-year-old girl riding in the back of Larimer’s car was also injured in the wreck.