ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The family of two young girls killed by an Abilene driver who was distracted by a fast food app is advocating for everyone to put their phones down while behind the wheel.
Melissa Grace and Starla Lindley would have been 18 and 15 this year, but their lives were ended in a tragic distracted driving crash in March 2018.
Abilene woman Shelby Buchanan struck a minivan carrying the girls while driving down Interstate 20, killing them both instantly. Investigators later learned Buchanan was using the Chick-fil-A app just moments before impact.
Buchanan received her punishment Tuesday for two counts of manslaughter connected to the crash. She was ordered to spend the next 360 days in county jail, along with 10 years of probation, court costs, restitution, and 800 hours of community service.
“I think it will teach the kids that were left behind because the kids do remember the girls – I think it will teach the kids – a lot of the kids are now 15,” Lindley family friend Antionette Haley explains after hearing the sentence. “I know my daughter is going to be learning to drive this year, and a lot of the girls that knew Starla and Melissa — they’re going to be driving now and hopefully this is an example to pay attention and to not pick up their phones while they’re driving.”
The Lindley Family also released a statement following the reading of Buchanan’s punishment, saying “we are relieved that this portion of this horrible journey is over, but our grief for the 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.”
Buchanan’s jail sentence began immediately after the hearing concluded and she was taken into custody.