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Police fear phone use in fatal crash.

Byline: Chelsea Deffenbacher The Register-Guard

MONROE - A Junction City woman was killed Wednesday night after she was ejected from her crashed Ford Bronco and run over by a passing vehicle, according to Oregon State Police.

Police said they believe cellphone use by the victim just before the crash might be to blame.

Carrie L. Hitt, 42, was driving north on Territorial Highway near Ferguson Road when her Bronco left the roadway about 9 p.m. and rolled, police said.

Hitt, police said, was ejected from the vehicle and run over by a second northbound vehicle, a Honda CRV, driven by Nadine M. Killmaster, 32, of Yakima, Wash.

Killmaster was unable to avoid Hitt, police said, and Hitt died at the scene.

Police said they believe Hitt was talking on her cellphone at the time her vehicle went off the road, and they ask drivers to refrain from using cellphones anytime they are behind the wheel.

Cellphone laws became more strict in Oregon on Sunday, making it illegal to use any phone function that requires holding and touching a cellphone.

Now, navigation apps and music apps can be used only if both hands are on the steering wheel, police said. Cellphones cradled in a dashboard mount are considered a hands-free devices and are therefore acceptable, but only if the functions being used require a single touch or swipe to activate or deactivate, police said.

Using the cellphone when stopped in traffic or at a red light remains illegal; the car must be parked, police said.

Calling 911 while driving is acceptable only if no one else can make the call, police said. The laws not only apply to cellphones, but also to tablets, laptops, GPS units and mobile music players, as well as any other electronic device.

The first violation is a $260 fine; a second violation, or if the first violation involves a wreck, is a $435 fine, and a third offense is six months in jail or up to a $2,500 fine.

Medical emergency calls, truckers and bus drivers following federal rules, and two-way radio use by school bus drivers or utility drivers are exempt if used during the scope of their employment, police said. This also extends to police, fire, ambulance and emergency vehicle operators, or ham radio operators, police said.

Drivers under age 18 cannot use any device while driving, even if it's hands-free.

Follow Chelsea on Twitter @ChelseaDeffenB. Email chelsea.deffenbacher@registerguard.com.

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Title Annotation:Crashes; Junction City woman was ejected in a rollover accident and hit by an oncoming vehicle on Territorial Highway
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Oct 6, 2017
Words:408
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