A Texas woman convicted of killing two young sisters because she was using a fast-food app while driving has been sentenced to probation and jail time.
Shelby Buchanan, of Abilene, received 10 years of probation and 360 days in county jail (two consecutive 180-day sentences) Tuesday for the 2018 deaths of Melissa Grace Lindley, 14, and Starla Lindley, 11.
Buchanan pleaded guilty earlier this year to two counts of manslaughter.
Melissa and Starla were killed on impact when Buchanan slammed into the back of their minivan while driving her pickup down I-20 in Abilene in March 2018.
A search warrant executed on Buchanan’s phone revealed “that at the time of the crash, Buchanan was actively using the Chick-fil-A application,” according to the documents.
Prosecutors argued that although Buchanan’s actions did not convey any ill intent, they did involve an indifference toward other lives. Court officials hope Buchanan’s sentence will serve as a precedent for other distracted-driving crimes, which are only expected to increase as technology continues to advance.
The girls’ family said in a statement, “We are relieved that this portion of this horrible journey is over, but our grief for our girls isn’t over and it will never be over. We miss Melissa Grace and Starla with every breath and always will. We beg drivers everywhere to put away their phones while driving. Please please just leave your phones alone while you’re on the road.”
In addition to the probation and jail time, Buchanan will also have to pay a $500 fine to cover court costs as well as restitution to the family in an amount that will be determined by the probation department.
As a condition of probation, Buchanan must also complete 800 hours of community service.