Distracted driving kills, but it’s not illegal in Texas until it does. You can talk and text on your phone without getting a ticket, but it doesn’t come without consequences.
One Lorena woman knows that all too well.
"Where that X is."
Pat Kultgen pointed to the place it happened. It's a moment that will play in her head for the rest of her life.
"I know where I was. I know where he was. It's one of those things. You look at, you hear, you know exactly where it happened,” Kultgen said.
It's the moment Kultgen lost a life that gave life to Windstar Farm in Lorena.
"There was no reason why she didn’t see a 900-pound horse,” Kultgen said.
Kultgen said on Sept. 21, 2016, she was switching her Welsh pony Stanley from one pen to another to feed him when the stallion got distracted by her dog and then lured by a mare across Brandy Hill Road. Kultgen said she went to get him and started to herd him across the road.
"A car came out of nowhere and plowed into him,” Kultgen said. “It happened so fast, I couldn't scream.”
Kultgen said the impact of the crash sent Stanley up onto the windshield, and onto the roof of the car. When he fell to the ground again, Kultgen said his leg shattered. A veterinarian had to come and put Stanley down. Kultgen said the crash happened at 10:51 a.m. and Stanley was dead by 11:30 a.m.
"It's the loss of a magnificent animal and it truly is pointless,” Kultgen said.
Pointless because Kultgen said the driver was on her cell phone and going too fast.
The accident report supports that theory, but that wasn’t enough to charge or cite the driver. It said the driver was late for class and going above 30 miles an hour “traveling between 35 to 45 miles per hour.”Then, it said she received a call at 10:51 a.m. and “swiped the phone to ignore it.” One minute later, she called her mother to tell her she'd been in a crash.
"In that short a period of time, she hit us,” Kultgen said.
News Channel 25 knows the name of the driver but did not share it because she was not cited or charged for the accident. Troopers said they cannot prove she was speeding because there were no skid marks, and they cannot prove that Stanley didn’t run into the car. In fact, the accident report said the “horse ran into the roadway and crashed into” the car. Kultgen, however, said she was right behind Stanley herding him across the road.
Crashes really can happen in that short a period of time according to Trooper D.L. Wilson.
"Somebody could walk out in front of you, run out in front of you. There could be a car that stops in front of you,” Wilson said.
Wilson added that you're 23 times more likely to get into a crash if you're texting, and four times more likely if you're talking.
"We want you to put your phones down,” Wilson said.
Even after knowing those statistics and hearing stories like Kultgen's, there are more than 100,0000 crashes in Texas each year involving distracted driving, according to TXDOT.
"Don't mess with your radio or your iPod or eat or anything like that while you're operating a car because that's what you need to do is focus on driving that car,” Wilson said.
Now, all Kultgen can focus on is honoring Stanley's life as she tries to rebuild hers.
"Stanley is not just my breeding stallion. He was the center of the farm. Everything revolved around Stanley,” Kultgen said.
News Channel 25 tried to get a hold of the driver. The phone number was redacted on the accident report, but we did find two phone numbers associated with her name. Both were incorrect.
For more information on the Texas laws surrounding texting and talking while driving, click here .
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