Update on Badlands Saturday accident: Woman dies on 21st birthday trying to handle her phone

BEAUMONT, CA — A woman died on her 21st birthday while driving herself and a friend to the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival after trying to handle her mobile phone on the highway, the California Highway Patrol reported Monday.

The crash happened just west of Beaumont about 7:30 p.m. Saturday on the eastbound Moreno Valley (60) Freeway, just west of Jack Rabbit Trail, in a sparsely populated area with hilly terrain known as the Badlands, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Darren Meyer.

"The two women were driving out to the Coachella Festival in Indio," Meyer said in a news release. "It was the driver's 21 st birthday and, against the passenger's advice, the driver was not wearing her seat belt."

The woman, identified by the Riverside County corner's office as 21-year-old Vanessa Suarez of Gardena, was at the wheel of a silver, 2015 Jeep Patriot SUV.

"While traveling eastbound, (Suarez) began manipulating her cellular phone," Meyer said. "While distracted, she lost control of the Jeep."

He said the SUV hit the center median, and the vehicle veered back into lanes and overturned. According to Meyer, Suarez was ejected onto the freeway, while her passenger remained strapped in to her seat.

To read the complete story, here’s the link to The Patch.

Debra CraigComment