BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FOUNTAIN HILLS, Ariz., – A Maricopa County, Arizona investigator’s report has found that distracted driving may have the been the cause of a collision that killed four people in Arizona, including Bob and Karen Bonta of Fort Madison.
At an initial court appearance at 5 a.m. PST in Maricopa County Superior Court, Alex John Bashaw, 28, was charged with four counts of reckless manslaughter, which are Class 2 felonies in Arizona. His bond was set at $750,000 with an arraignment set for July 27.
Class 2 felonies carry up to a five-year state prison sentence in Arizona.
Bashaw was extradited to Arizona from Dayton, Ohio, where he has a home, and was jailed in Fountain Hills on Thursday.
According to a probable cause statement submitted to the Maricopa County Superior Courts, Bashaw was not found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident, but he had just finished a phone call and was traveling at a minimum speed of 53 mph in a 35 mph zone.
The report alleges that Bashaw failed to negotiate a slight curve in the road and traveled across a bicycle lane and then struck a raised cement curb before spinning counterclockwise and striking two pedestrians. The report alleges that Bashaw was traveling approximately 40 to 43 mph when the first collision occurred.
The vehicle continued to spin and entered the intersection against a red light where the right front corner of the vehicle struck the other two pedestrians who were legally in the crosswalk.
The report had redacted which victims were in what location. The investigator reported that after the vehicle stopped spinning and came to rest, Bashaw said he jumped out and began performing CPR until rescue personnel arrived.
The investigator reported that Bashaw said he was not using his cellphone at the time of the collision, and that his cellphone was in a cradle for hands-free use.
The statement also read that a search warrant was served on Verizon Wireless to obtain data from Bashaw’s phone, and the data indicates that Bashaw received a call at 9:11.46 which lasted about 55 seconds to 9:12.41. Video allegedly shows the collision with the first victim occurred at 9:12.45, indicating the call ended four seconds prior to the first collision.
A local business security camera captured the collision. The investigator said the video shows the traffic signal at the intersection transitioning from green to red about 12 seconds prior to the first collision.
The grand jury warrant carries the reckless language because Bashaw is alleged to have violated five Arizona statutes: speed, failure to stay in a traffic lane, driving on a sidewalk, failure to obey a traffic signal, and failure to yield to pedestrians, in the deaths of the four people.
The Bontas were walking northbound on the east sidewalk of Saguaro Blvd. at Palisades Blvd. where they stopped to cross Saguaro Blvd. The two other pedestrians, husband and wife Ronald and Patti Doombos, both 60, of Canada, were also walking northbound on the same area when they were all struck by Bashaw’s 1998 gold Ford Explorer SUV.
Karen and Patti were pronounced dead at the scene, Bob was pronounced dead at Scottsdale Osborn Hospital shortly after his arrival and Ronald died as a result of his injuries on June 12 in Calgary, Canada.
A video of the arraignment is available on Pen City Current’s YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/JYhVaPvA3jQ .