Hit and almost killed – a Las Cruces man says he believes a driver who was texting hit him and his children.
On Monday, Las Cruces City Council changed the cell phone ordinance, and that father says he’s living proof fines can’t be high enough.
Eugene Ramirez and his kids were headed to a convenience store, and says a sign at the crosswalk indicated it was safe for him and his children to walk. However, they never made it to their destination.
Instead, Ramirez says he woke up in the hospital with his two kids after they were struck head-on by a driver Ramirez says was texting.
“We were crossing and he was too busy on his phone and he hit us; he ran us over,” said Ramirez. The crash happened in November, on Alameda and Three Crosses – before the City of Las Cruces had any cell phone ordinance at all.
“The guy ran over my whole left side from my foot to my head. It went over her stomach and her rib cage,” said Ramirez.
Since February, officers issued more than 270 tickets, all which required a court appearance. On Monday, city council did away with court appearances and switched over to a flat fee of 92 dollars, regardless of how many violations a person has.
“If you kept getting these tickets for violating (the) cell phone ordinance, it was going to get progressive and the amount was going to increase, well that’s really not my intent. My intent was just to reduce behavior for texting and talking on (the) cell phone,” said Mayor Ken Miyagishima.
Raising fines for first time violators is the least Ramirez and his family say the city can do to encourage drivers to pay attention.
“It takes one second and you hit somebody, so I think it’s a good thing actually because our family went through a lot,” said Annett Dominguez, Eugene’s wife.
And Eugene said, “If it goes up, maybe that’ll get people to stop doing what they’re doing now, and if they don’t like it, they can stay home.”