Today a Yuma County jury found Jorge Espinoza guilty of negligent homicide, and six counts of endangerment in the death of Arizona Department of Public Safety Officer Tim Huffman. Espinoza killed Officer Huffman in a crash May 6, 2013 east on Yuma on Interstate 8.
The DPS Vehicular Crimes Unit’s investigation revealed Espinoza, who was driving an 18-wheeler at the time of the crash, was surfing the web on his mobile phone instead of paying attention to his driving. The crash destroyed two DPS patrol cars in addition to officer Huffman’s. The Officers were in the process of completing a previous crash investigation.
Simply put, Espinoza’s selfish carelessness resulted in the tragic, and clearly avoidable death of one of Arizona’s finest.
This case is a perfect illustration of the serious dangers of distracted driving. While the Arizona Highway Patrol Association recognizes there are many activities that distract drivers, we believe the use of mobile devices poses the greatest risk. The ubiquity of smart phones coupled with society’s drive for virtual connection create the perfect storm to divert drivers’ attention from the road. No other distraction has the same level of power to chronically draw a driver’s attention.
“ The lesson to Arizona, and the nation, in Tim’s death and Espinoza’s conviction,” said AHPA President Jimmy Chavez. “Is to put the phone down and drive.”
The Arizona Highway Patrol Association, the Department of Public Safety, and Arizona will always remember the sacrifice of Officer Huffman, along with 28 other DPS officers who were killed in service to the citizens of Arizona.
AHPA is working with the Huffman family to release a series of public service announcements regarding distracted driving.