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Tulsa Police investigating deadly collision with driver they say was distracted by phone

Posted at 9:17 PM, Apr 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-11 06:10:57-04

TULSA - New questions are coming out after a deadly accident Sunday morning that involved a man who police said was driving distracted. 

Police said two men were putting gas in a car on the side of West 71st Street at Jackson Avenue when a man distracted by his phone hit them. 

As videos and photos broke of the story on 2 Works for You's social media pages, viewers were outraged that the driver wasn't under arrest. 

"I heard a big boom, and I thought it was the neighbor's dog so I just turned over and went back to sleep," said neighbor and bystander Jay Silva. 

When he heard sirens he knew something had gone wrong, and with his street usually full of drivers speeding he had an idea of what happened. 

When he learned the details he had a similar question as our viewers. 

"Why's he not in the back of a police car," he said. 

"They're not walking away Scot-free or anything like that. I want to make that clear. It's just that the investigation is ongoing at this time," said Officer Leland Ashley with the Tulsa Police Department. 

According to police, the driver who hit the men admitted to being distracted and cooperated with their investigation.

Officer Ashley said just because the driver wasn't taken away in cuffs doesn't mean he won't be under arrest eventually; but the act of being distracted by itself isn't something you can be arrested for. 

The District Attorney's Office predicts what happened Sunday was an "Out of Custody Arrest."

"That essentially is let us look at the facts, let us do our investigation, let us complete our task and once we've completed that work we'll hand if off to the district attorney's office and see what charges are appropriate," said Assistant District Attorney Kevin Gray.

With Oklahoma's new texting while driving ban, he says his office now has a range of charges for people driving while distracted. 

Texting while driving is now a misdemeanor. You can be booked for a court date if caught. 

If you're texting while driving and kill someone it becomes a potential first-degree manslaughter charge, the same charges many people receive for killing someone while driving under the influence.

Driving while distracted by something other than texting is punishable by a $150 fine.

However, Gray says no matter what's alleged, or what a person confesses to they have to prove it in order to file charges.

“We have to take a look at their phone, typically that’s where [we get]  some of the electronic evidence we have started collecting. We’re able to do a phone dump, look and see what time they were texting or what messages they were sending," he said.

No charges have been filed yet against the driver. 

However, Tulsa Police predict in this case there will be.

After it concludes its investigation it will forward it to the DA's office.

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