Driver was texting before hitting, killing 14-month-old in Ripley County

HOLTON, Ind. - Ripley County officials say a driver was texting before a crash that led to the death of a 14-month-old Thursday evening.

Jonathon Phillips, 19, told officials he was focusing on his cellphone when he hit 14-month-old Adrik Hanaway in the 4700 block of West Hopewell Road in Holton at about 7 p.m. Thursday. Phillips told officials he looked away from the road to set his cellphone down after he was texting, when he hit Hanaway.

When officials arrived at the scene, they found Hanaway in the middle of the road. Emergency crews transported the child to Jennings County Hospital, then later Riley Hospital in Indianapolis where he was pronounced dead.

Phillips was driving westbound on Hopewell Road and took his eyes off the road to set his cellphone down when he hit something, according to officials. Phillips said he thought he had struck an animal, but later realized it was the child.

Officials say Hanaway was playing in the yard of a house on the roadway with his siblings before the accident, but it is not yet clear why the child went into the street.

Authorities said Phillips was very distraught after the accident, but said he cooperated with investigators completely. Officers said they do not believe alcohol or drugs were a factor in the accident.

The accident is being investigated by the Ripley County Sheriff's Office.

"Law Enforcement cannot reiterate enough driving a vehicle requires all of the driver's attention," Dearborn County officials said in a news release. "Communication devices, radios, eating, reading material, and applying make up, to name a few, are all things officers observe on the roadways that distracts drivers and leads to tragedies such as this."

Stay with 9 News and for updates as they become available.

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