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Aug 23, 2013 10:37 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Police: SUV Driver Was Using Cellphone During Fatal Crash On County Road 39

Aug 28, 2013 9:37 AM

The woman who died after crashing her SUV head-on into a Hampton Jitney bus last month on County Road 39 in Southampton, resulting in a mammoth traffic jam, was using her cellphone at the time of the collision, according to Southampton Town Police.

Carissa Castillo, 29, of Shirley was using her cellphone for functions other than texting or calling at about 7 a.m. on July 25 while she was driving her Chevrolet Trailblazer eastbound on the highway. That is when she crossed the double yellow lines and slammed into the front of the westbound bus, Southampton Town Police Detective Sergeant Lisa Costa said on Friday.

Police needed Ms. Castillo's cellphone service provider—which Sgt. Costa declined to name—to run her phone records before they could officially confirm cellphone use as a contributing factor in the fatal crash. This process took several weeks because the crash investigation is not a criminal matter, Sgt. Costa said in a previous interview.

The driver and bus attendant suffered minor injuries; the bus was not carrying passengers at the time of the accident.

The police investigation, which included talking to witnesses and examining video recorded by a forward facing camera on the front of Jitney bus, concluded that Ms. Castillo was driving aggressively on her way to work at the Hampton Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Southampton.

Sgt. Costa said while the mother of two was distracted by her cellphone, traffic in front of her slowed to a stop. After noticing this, Ms. Castillo swerved to the left to avoid rear-ending the car in front of her and drove into the path of the oncoming bus.

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So tragic and so preventable. My continued prayers to her family and friends.
By EQMama (29), East Quogue on Aug 23, 13 10:42 AM
2 members liked this comment
Cellphone use while driving is a real problem today. I don't know what the solution is as so many people ignore the rules. That said, knowing the probable cause of this accident still does not make the loss of this young mother any easier. Her poor family and loved ones continue to grieve, and we need to respect that.
By Mrs.Sea (268), Sag Harbor on Aug 23, 13 12:50 PM
2 members liked this comment
the solution may be enforcement of distracted driver laws.

I would like to think that if the speed limit and cell phone laws were enforced on 39 like they are in Quogue we woulod see a decline in accidents.
By user.name (46), the jungle on Aug 23, 13 1:00 PM
2 members liked this comment
There's no mail delivery in Quogue... Let alone more than 50 people living there... But, it's great to hear that they're generating revenue via a bullcrap 30 mph speed limit....
By The Royal 'We' (199), Southampton on Aug 24, 13 5:16 AM
We have enough laws. If people follow them we will all be ok. We all have used our phone while driving texting is outrageous.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Aug 23, 13 1:39 PM
Voila! Mystery solved! Stay off your goddamn cellphones when driving. Simple as that.
By Lets go mets (377), Southampton on Aug 23, 13 8:20 PM
What I am trying to say is, although children lost their beloved mom, it wasn't an accident. It was a highly irresponsible act that unfortunately caused a death. However, if a large bus was not on the receiving end of her car, it likely would have resulted in at least one other death, if not several. Grieve all you need, but remember this was not an accident.
By Lets go mets (377), Southampton on Aug 23, 13 8:43 PM
We are all immortal and we are all invincible, until we are not. If we would only drive as if every other car was filled with the people you love. I've never received a call, text or facebook message that was worth dying for, or killing someone else for.
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on Aug 23, 13 11:24 PM
2 members liked this comment
I sold cars at an early age, and will always remember an older man I sold a car to. I asked him if he would like the upgrade to the cassette player, and he said "take it out" I explained it would cost more to take it out and he said to me " the only thing you should be doing while driving, is driving"
By LI native (127), east moriches on Aug 24, 13 1:27 AM
I like this attitude. People do not take driving seriously enough. If we were engaging in any other high speed activity, we'd all be wearing helmets, but for some reason in cars we feel invincible.
By Brian Bailey (36), Southampton on Aug 29, 13 11:09 AM
But remember people... It's perfectly "OK" for cops to drive while on their cell phones...
By The Royal 'We' (199), Southampton on Aug 24, 13 5:20 AM
1 member liked this comment
Yes, this a huge problem. I have a dash mounted camera and various videos of police officers driving while talking on their hand held cells, drinking coffee, no seat belts. The biggest violations I have seen though are rolling stops and no turn signal. The record so far is 6 turns without a signal! Its tough to convince people laws are important when the enforcers routinely ignore them...
By Arnold Timer (327), Sag Harbor on Aug 24, 13 3:06 PM
2 members liked this comment
Bottom line: This woman paid the ultimate price for her mistake, and will never get the chance to learn from it. So...we get it people...she broke the rules of the road.... but she received her punishment, shes dead....so leave it alone.
By subscriber (6), moriches on Aug 24, 13 8:22 AM
1 member liked this comment
Very sad...continued prayers for the family...I hear all of the comments. Some informative some from the heart and some from.....______________.
By MsB (17), Southampton on Aug 24, 13 10:02 AM
Here's my prediction: Every registered vehicle on the road equipped with a kill switch to block cell text GPS activity when moving more than 15 mph.
Red light--crawling traffic--everything pops in. Begin acceleration--everything cuts out.
Yes--there will be an easy way to disable the device.
However...notice those police cars with the cameras on the back? Easy enough to add a detection device alerting the officer that there is signal emanating from a moving vehicle.
Red lights ...more
By aging hipster (201), Southampton on Aug 25, 13 7:12 AM
Heading west on Montauk hwy this morning and a guy heading east in a Blazer swerves into my lane. I get on my horn and swerve into the shoulder. He's got his cell on top of his steering wheel, either email or texting. I leave the house 3 seconds earlier and my wife is a widow. Put the phones down people.
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on Aug 25, 13 3:53 PM
2 members liked this comment
Cell phones, speeding, and aggressive driving are the major problems on CR39. Nothing is going to change until the police patrol the road more often.
By bridge (7), bridgehampton on Aug 28, 13 6:00 AM
2 members liked this comment
A New Jersey Appeals Court has ruled that both sides of a texting conversation which resulted in a car accident could be held liable. The ruling came as part of a case in which the driver of a truck received a text message shortly before striking a motorcycle carrying two passengers. A person sending text messages has a duty not to text someone who is driving if the texter knows, or has special reason to know, the recipient will view the text while driving.
By loading... (601), quiogue on Aug 28, 13 8:35 PM
1 member liked this comment
"""' Carissa Castillo, 29, of Shirley was using her cellphone for functions other than texting or calling at about 7 a.m""""""
How can the phone company determine this? Was it emailing? Instagramming? Twitter? Facebook update? It doesn't seem as if the phone company could determine if someone was changing the music on their phone unless they were using something like Pandora instead of playing mp3s.
I don't find CR 39 all that dangerous to drive on, compared to, say, 347. When I recall ...more
By btdt (449), water mill on Aug 29, 13 9:47 PM