KC Teenager Runs Out Of Second Chances; Judge Orders Hard Time For Texting-While-Driving Fatality In Platte County

Rachel Gannon

Rachel Gannon

A Kansas City teenager who pleaded guilty to causing a fatal accident while texting has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison after repeated probation violations.

Rachel Gannon pleaded guilty in May 2012 to involuntary manslaughter, assault, and violating the Missouri law that prohibits motorists 21 or younger from texting while driving.

The accident in September, 2011 killed 72-year-old Loretta Larimer of Camden Point. The crash also injured Larimer’s ten-year-old granddaughter.

Gannon was traveling north on NW Skyview Road on September 26, 2011 at approximately 3:00 p.m. when she struck Larimer’s vehicle near Interstate 435.

Gannon admitted she had been texting on her cell phone before she ran off the side of the road. When Gannon returned her vehicle to the road, she crossed the median and hit Larimer’s vehicle head-on.

Last year Platte County Circuit Judge Abe Shafer sentenced Gannon to two days shock time in jail, and placed her on five years probation that included a number of specific requirements.

Officials now say she repeatedly violated the terms of her probation.

Last September, largely at the request of the victims in the case, Judge Shafer gave her another chance. Shafer sentenced Gannon to one year in the Platte County Jail but allowed her to attend school on work release, provided she also attend tutoring sessions and report back to jail soon thereafter. Prosecutors say she skipped a number of those tutoring sessions and was seen hanging out at a Dairy Queen after school.

On Wednesday, the judge ordered her to serve a three and a half years in the Department of Corrections. That sentence will begin once she completes the one year sentence imposed last September.

In a news release, Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd said, “This case involves two tragedies. The first tragedy was that Loretta Larimer, a vibrant 72-year-old grandmother, was killed by Rachel Gannon.

“But the second tragedy is that, after receiving tremendous mercy at the request of Ms. Larimer’s family, Ms. Gannon repeatedly violated the terms of her probation and will now serve a prison term that the Larimer family never wanted her to have.”

The victims in the case have been unusually supportive of the defendant, and very vocal about the dangers of sending and receiving text messages while driving. But they have now filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Gannon.

In an interview, Zahnd said there’s nothing cynical about that. “One of the things that they told me they were taught by their grandmother is to forgive people when they make a mistake, and they were willing to do that, and frankly still have done that,” Zahnd said.

“But they also always recognized that actions always have to have consequences. Originally we tried to make those consequences not involve prison time. Sadly, today, the court believed that it was left with no other choice other than to commit Rachel Gannon to three and a half years of prison.”

  • st.jo

    Good, she should have gotten more time. Would you read a book and drive? How about check your emails on your laptop? Maybe do a crossword? WTF??? I’m not only her age, I don’t even drive and I have more common sense.

    Current score: 2
  • Justthefacts

    It’s not a wrongful death lawsuit, it’s an application to approve a wrongful death settlement, which is required to go through the court system for approval by a judge in the proper venue.

    Current score: 1
  • Allison Dawn Carter

    That’s just wrong…rachels a good girl…and for those that know how platte city is set up u know that dairy queen is in the parking lot of the high school…ooo this angers me!!!

    Current score: 0
    • Name

      Technically she is a murderer.

      Current score: 0
    • Gary Allen Nixt

      It’s not just about the Dairy Queen dumb ass!!! If you think so…you are a special kind of stupid!!!

      Current score: 0
  • mlr

    She was sentenced to probation and failed. She wasn’t sentenced to prison just because she was hanging out at DQ. She was given plenty of chances. If she was a good girl she would be off probation and not in prison.

    Current score: 0
  • Shug

    For every action, there is a reaction. Miss too much work with no excuses, you lose your job. Don’t turn in your homework, you fail the class. Don’t follow the terms of your probation, you suffer the consequences. Plain and simple

    Current score: 0