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Texting driver gets 4 days in jail for killing 79-year-old man

Posted at 9:32 AM, Oct 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-19 09:42:04-04

NEW PRAGUE, MN — A Minnesota woman will spend four days in jail after she hit and killed a 79-year-old man with her car.

The driver, 48-year-old Susan Ann Russo, was texting and driving when she killed school bus driver Joe Tikalsky , WCCO reported.

Tikalsky was walking to his mailbox when he was struck.

Tikalsky’s wife Emma said she refused to get angry about the driver’s four-day jail sentence.

“We cried together and they begged us, my daughter and myself, would you please find it in your heart to forgive us and I knew that was the God-like thing I would be expected to do and we did. We said yes,” Emma Jean Tikalsky said. “Four days or 400 days, it really doesn’t matter. I know she didn’t mean to kill anyone.”

As part of the sentencing agreement, Russo will serve her jail time around the October 28 anniversary of Tikalsky’s death both this year and next year. She will also pay a $3,000 fine to help promote the dangers of texting while driving.

Emma Jean said she hoped others would see this story and understand texting and driving can be deadly.

“Something must be done,’ she said.

The Tikalsky family is working with lawmakers in their state to pass stricter and defined distracted driving laws and punishments. Right now, in Minnesota, it is against the law to read or send texts while driving and stopped at a light.

In Virginia, texting while the vehicle is stopped remains legal.