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UPDATE: Accused DUI Driver 'Admits to READING TEXT' Before Fatal Crash, CHP Says

Two Santa Rosa women -- mother- and daughter-in-laws -- were killed in the Saturday accident on Highway 12. One was a local school music teacher.

By Bay City News

A pickup truck driver who killed two women when he slammed into the rear of a vehicle in Santa Rosa on Saturday evening admitted he was checking a text message on his cellphone before the crash, a California Highway Patrol officer said.

Nicholas Lee Tognozzi, 30, of Rohnert Park, was driving a 2005 GMC Sierra at about 5:20 p.m. Saturday when he struck the rear of a 2001 Toyota Camry, killing Susan Hufford, 53, and Sharon Hufford, 74, both of Santa Rosa, CHP officials said.

Tognozzi was driving east on state Highway 12 at 55 to 65 mph when he looked up after checking his phone and noticed traffic ahead of him had stopped, CHP Officer Kerri Post said.

Tognozzi told the CHP he could not stop in time and the truck struck the rear of the Camry, which was about 850 feet west of Farmers Lane.

The force of the collision pushed the Camry into the rear of a 2005 Suzuki Aerio. All of the vehicles were in the same lane, Post said.

The two women killed were in the back seat of the Camry.
  
The front seat passenger, Donald Hufford, 74, of Santa Rosa, suffered major injuries and was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, CHP officials said.

The Toyota's driver, Jay Randolph Hufford, 54, of Santa Rosa, suffered a head laceration. Susan Hufford, a music teacher in the Mark West Union School District, was Jay Hufford's wife.

Sharon Hufford was his mother and Donald Hufford is his father.

Tognozzi was arrested on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence causing death.

He posted $100,000 bail and was released from Sonoma County Jail at 4 a.m. Sunday. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Sonoma County Superior Court on Friday afternoon.

Tognozzi was arrested on March 10, 2011, for misdemeanor driving on a suspended license and an infraction for driving a vehicle with a defective headlamp, according to court records.

A misdemeanor count of driving without a license was added to the complaint and Tognozzi pleaded no contest to that charge on May 11, 2011.

The other two charges were dismissed. Tognozzi provided proof of a license and insurance, was given a conditional 12-month sentence and was fined $250.

He paid the fine on Aug. 5, 2011, and his conditional sentence expired on May 11, 2012, according to court records.

(Side note: Last week, officers from the Petaluma and Santa Rosa police departments staked out 15 people with revoked or suspended licenses -- told by a judge not to drive  -- to ensure they were in compliance. Story here: Gotcha! Sting Targets Drivers with Revoked Licenses.)

Copyright © 2014 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.
The Voice of Reason March 18, 2014 at 06:13 PM
"Ramon, Perhaps we should raise the driving age to 21?" Not a bad idea, except that fools like doug would still be able to drive.
The Voice of Reason March 18, 2014 at 06:20 PM
Wow, little dougie was so jealous of me, she decided to be me. What a pathetic piece of shit.
The Voice of Reason March 18, 2014 at 06:21 PM
Look at little old lady dougie try to correct someone's spelling: " Doug Strickland March 18, 2014 at 08:27 am would I drive while texting? probably not. I'm older and don't have the experience of typing out 300-500 messages a day. But most people that fit the demographic DO have that experience, can do it without looking, and are actually safer than someone like me. I wear glasses, have a 50 year old's reflexes, and suck at texting without looking. But Sandy, we aren't the majority any more babe. Why should our (minority) physical and mental limitations be the burden of others? As for site (sic) or citations: AAA Foundation performed a study in 2013 that showed that the frequency and probability of accidents is not rising at the same rate as usage. Meaning: there are more accidents, but there are WAY MORE people texting and talking safely. Cell Phone Texting Accident Statistics Total percentage of people who have sent or received a text message while driving 37% Total percent of people who text while driving regularly 18% Total percentage of time spent driving in the wrong lane while texting 10% Total percentage of people under the age of 18 who admitted to texting while driving 46% Average amount of time a driver spends not looking at the road while texting 4.6 seconds Total percentage of respondents who support a ban on text messaging 80% Total times the amount a truck driver has of getting into an accident while texting opposed to concentrating on driving 23.2 "
The Voice of Reason March 18, 2014 at 06:24 PM
PS: Little old lady Dougie has me confused with someone else. She might have Alzheimer's.
The Voice of Reason March 18, 2014 at 06:58 PM
If banning cell phone use in cars saves even one life it is worth it, especially if it inconveniences people like Doug Strickland.

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