At 7:10 p.m. on Aug. 16, celebrity plastic surgeon Frank Ryan tweeted a picture he’d just taken of his border collie Jill, “surveying the view from atop the sand dune” on his currently active Twitter account. It was sent from his Blackberry, and, according to MTV.com, it was sent while Ryan was driving the Pacific Coast Highway. Ryan’s car plunged over a cliff in Malibu, killing him and injuring his dog, who suffered head, eye, and paw injuries. A California Highway Patrol spokesman had confirmed that Ryan was texting, but have not confirmed that it was the official crash cause.
Ryan had just climbed a major sand dune west of Malibu, and was excited to share his experiences. The doctor had done surgery on Heidi Montag, Vince Neil, Gene Simmons, Adrianne Curry, and Lorenzo Lamas. Unfortunately, due to distracted driving, it will be Ryan’s last experience and, hopefully, a wake-up call to others.
Though the official crash cause was not confirmed yet, his family had been told by crash investigators that texting was the cause.
It was once a concern that such mundane tasks as messing with the radio, eating, or even talking with passengers would be enough of a distraction to cause a driver to lose control of his vehicle. As people moved to cell phone usage, the distraction of juggling a phone in one hand while driving has led to cell phone bans in numerous states, as seen on the Governors Highway Safety Association. Eight states (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Washington) as well as D.C. and the Virgin Islands prohibit all cell phone usage. Text messaging bans are either in place or are coming into place in 30 states, D.C., and Guam.
Two celebrities have been either injured or killed as an indirect result of cell phone use. Supermodel Niki Taylor, then 26, was critically injured in 2001 when the driver of the car she was a passenger in looked down to answer his cell phone, according to USA Today. He lost control of his 1993 Nissan Maxima and she “lost extensive amounts of blood” due to liver damage. She had been wearing her seat belt.
NBCSports.com reported in 2007 that St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock had been both drunk and distracted by talking on his cell phone when his sport utility vehicle collided with a tow truck. The pitcher, then 29, died within seconds from head injuries. Marijuana was found in the vehicle as well. He was not wearing a seat belt, but authorities determined that it would not have saved his life.
Driving while tired, distracted, intoxicated, or just not paying attention can take or maim a life in seconds. It doesn’t take much to put one’s life in danger on the road, which is why, if tragedies must occur, then it’s best to try to learn from them. As I discovered when my cousin died while still in high school, seat belts and safe driving practices should be considered absolutes whenever you enter a vehicle.
Gil Kaufman, “Dr. Frank Ryan Died After Tweeting About Dog” MTV.COM
Dr Frank Ryan, “DrFrankRyan” Twitter
Governors Highway Safety Association
USA Today, “Supermodel Niki Taylor critically hurt in car crash”
Associated Press, “Cards’ Hancock was drunk, talking on cell” NBCSports.com