A 53-year-old man whose car was hit head-on this week on Dugald Road in Winnipeg has died from his injuries, while a 19-year-old man may face upgraded charges in what police believe is a case of texting and driving.
The crash happened Tuesday evening between a car and truck in the Transcona neighbourhood.
Police allege the 19-year-old man was texting on his cellphone while driving a pickup truck.
He came upon traffic that was stopped due to construction in the area and swerved to avoid a rear-end collision. He veered into the westbound lanes and slammed into an oncoming Dodge Neon driven by the 53-year-old man, police said.
Emergency crews had to cut the roof off the Neon to reach the man, who was then rushed to hospital in critical condition.
On Thursday, police issued a news release stating the man had died overnight. His family has asked that the man's name not be released.
Witnesses said they saw the 19-year-old pickup truck driver pacing and appearing distraught after the collision. He was sent to hospital in stable condition and was treated and released.
The 19-year-old was arrested and initially charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm, as well as possession of a prohibited weapon. Police are now looking into upgrading those charges.
The man has been released from police custody on a promise to appear in court.
Drivers more 'covert' about texting
It has been illegal to use cellphones while driving in Manitoba since July 2010, when a distracted-driving ban came into effect, but Winnipeg police say many motorists are still doing it.
"People are becoming more and more covert about texting," Const. Jason Michalyshen told CBC News on Thursday.
'No text is worth changing your life over.' —Dustin Vernie
"What they're doing is instead of, you know, holding the device up where everybody can see, they're bringing those devices down even lower. And what it's doing is creating even more of a hazardous situation."
CBC News cameras spotted a number of Winnipeg motorists looking down while behind the wheel on Thursday, seemingly fixated on something on their laps.
Michalyshen said more than 1,800 tickets have been issued to distracted drivers so far this year. Officers are stepping up bicycle and motorcycle patrols to catch people in the act of texting and driving, he added.
Dustin Vernie, 18, knows all too well the risks associated with texting and driving, after he sustained massive injuries in a vehicle collision in December.
"I assume I was texting the whole way," Vernie said. "I guess I was texting like every time I drove before … and then just straight into oncoming traffic."
Vernie said he is thankful the driver he hit was not harmed, but the collision broke almost every bone in his body. Doctors told the teen that he would never walk again.
"Really, no text is worth changing your life over," said Vernie, who is currently in a motorized wheelchair.
Vernie said he walked on his own with a therapist on Wednesday. He is planning to talk to high school students about the hazards of texting and driving starting this fall.