A 19-year-old Georgia woman who allegedly caused an accident after being distracted by Snapchat has been arrested and faces serious felony charges.
The crash in question took place in September 2015, and a lawsuit was filed last month by the victim. But it was this week that Clayton County police issued a warrant for McGee’s arrest and charged her with serious injury by vehicle, according to WSB-TV.
Here are five fast facts about the case of Christal McGee and the Snapchat lawsuit.
1. She Was Allegedly Using Snapchat While Driving 100 Miles Per Hour
Christal McGee was allegedly using Snapchat’s speed filter while trying to reach over 100 miles per hour in her Mercedes, McGee’s passengers told police, according to WSB-TV. This Snapchat filter measures how fast a user is traveling and places that number over their picture.
In a statement, Snapchat noted that they discourage the use of this filter while driving by putting a warning message up on screen.
As Wentworth Maynard, an Uber driver, was turning right out of his Tara Boulevard apartment complex, McGee rear-ended his car. Maynard ended up in a five-week coma and suffered traumatic brain injury. The area where Maynard was struck has a speed limit of 55 miles per hour. Lawyers say that Maynard’s injuries have left him with memory loss and difficulty communicating.
Karen, Maynard’s wife, said of her husband’s condition, “Wentworth would get up on his own, make his breakfast, go to work and cook dinner. Now he’s so tired he falls asleep in his wheelchair during the day. We used to sit on the sofa and watch TV in the evening, and Wentworth would hug me. Now, he can’t do that anymore.”
2. Maynard Is Suing McGee & Snapchat
A lawsuit filed by Wentworth Maynard in April is aimed both at McGee and at Snapchat itself, holding both parties responsible for Maynard’s medical bills.
In the suit, Attorney Michael Neff argues that Snapchat is in part to blame for the accident due to their creation of the speed filter.
“This case is unique in that we have clear evidence linking use of the Snapchat miles per hour filter in the moments leading up to the crash with the kind of grievous harm we know this product is capable of,” Neff said. “It’s our hope that this case will not only garner justice for Mr. Wentworth, but will pressure Snapchat to stop putting the public at risk.”
The case notes that Snapchat has not removed this speed filter from its service even after multiple accidents similar to McGee’s.
3. She Denies Using Snapchat Before the Crash
McGee admitted in court to driving 90 miles per hour, but she denied that she was using Snapchat prior to the accident.
Snapchat also denies the accusations, both arguing that they are not to blame for the crash and that McGee was not actually using their application while driving.
“Snapchat contends that the Activity Logs demonstrate that McGee was not in fact using the Snapchat Application at the time of or immediately prior to the collision,” the company said.
This claim has not been verified, but last week the lawsuit was put on hold for 30 days so that attorneys on both sides could examine the new information.
According to Wentworth Maynard’s lawsuit, all three of McGee’s passengers say that she was using Snapchat while driving and intentionally trying to hit 100 miles per hour. Her ex-boyfriend, Henry Williams, initially defended McGee but later revised his statement, according to WSB-TV.
4. She Posted a Snap of Her Injuries
Although McGee does not seem to have taken any pictures while driving, a selfie she took immediately after the accident has been made public. The photo shows her strapped to a gurney with blood on her forehead, and the image is accompanied by the caption, “Lucky to be alive.”
McGee does not deny that this photo was taken in the aftermath of the crash, but it is still unclear whether she was actually using the application while driving.
5. Police Say She Demonstrated a ‘True Disregard’ for Public Safety
As of this week, McGee is now charged with reckless driving, super speeder, driving too fast for conditions and serious injury by vehicle. The latter charge is a felony. Clayton County Solicitor Tasha Mosley argued that these charges were justified based on the woman’s “true disregard” for public safety.
“When you’re consciously deciding that you’re going to try to hit a certain point of 100 mph, on a rainy road … you don’t care,” Mosley said. “For any other young person out there that’s thinking about doing this, they can see that we’re serious about pursuing charges when you hurt somebody to this extent.”
Police Chief Mark Harris said he hopes this sends a message to other young drivers.
“The main thing I would like to see out of it is that she understands that what she was doing was wrong, and based on her doing wrong, what kind of injuries she caused to an innocent person,” Harris said.