CORVALLIS — Investigators say a Corvallis couple was distracted by taking cellphone photos when their van hit and killed a motorcyclist on Highway 99W near Monroe.
The Benton County Sheriff’s Office says Veronica Avila Diaz was driving and her husband, Jose Antonio Cejas-Gutierrez, had been taking pictures of her just before their van swerved into the oncoming lane.
The crash on Sept. 30 killed 72-year-old Kenneth Douglas Carroll.
The 28-year-old driver was arrested Thursday on manslaughter and reckless driving charges. She was booked into the county jail and remained there Friday in lieu of $97,500 bail.
Her 31-year-old husband is charged with interfering with police and hindering prosecution by suggesting he was driving at the time. He does not have a published telephone number and it’s unclear if he has hired a lawyer.
Benton County Undersheriff Scott Jackson said the couple’s behavior was “very dangerous."
Carroll was riding his motorcycle north on Highway 99W when Diaz’s oncoming van crossed the highway’s center line and slammed into him, officials said.
He was thrown from the motorcycle and died at the scene.
Carroll’s daughter, Kelly Carroll, of Eugene, told The Register-Guard newspaper she is prepared to do “everything I can to make sure (Diaz and Cejas-Gutierrez) are held accountable."
At the time of the crash, Diaz’s van also was occupied by her three children. The youngest child is nearly 5 months old, while the others are 10 and 5.
A 2005 Ford Mustang driven by a 17-year-old girl was traveling behind Carroll’s motorcycle. She avoided the collision by steering into a ditch.
Carroll’s daughter said her father, whose friends knew him as Doug, was “a total Renaissance guy." He was an experienced motorcyclist who had only recently purchased the Kawasaki Vulcan touring bike he was riding when the crash happened.
“I think he was just going on his version of a Sunday drive," she said of her father, who lived just three blocks from her west Eugene residence.