PANDORA — A 5-year-old playing with a cell phone contributed to the death of Pandora couple, John and Marilyn Steffen, according to a report from the Florida Highway Patrol released earlier week.
The crash occurred March 3 in Fort Myers, Fla. A deputy responded to a call after the child told a dispatcher he needed “a cop and a fire truck.” On the way to the call, Deputy Robert Torres hit John and Marilyn Steffens' car on Palm Beach Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale, where they spent their winters.
The Fort Myers (Fla.) News-Press reported the Steffen family disagreed with the Florida Highway Patrol report that concluded Steffen violated the right of way of Torres by turning left onto Palm Beach Avenue and into the deputy’s path.
The report absolved Torres of responsibility in the crash, stating he had emergency lights activated and was intermittently using an audible siren.
Members of the Steffen family said witnesses at the scene said the cruiser did not have lights and sirens activated, according to the News-Press article.
No charges were filed against the child or his parents. The child was using an inactive cell phone. Like most cell phones, it could still dial 911 without a service plan. According to the report issued by the Florida Highway Patrol, the child’s parents told investigators the child had been playing with an old phone, and they didn’t know it could still make 911 calls.
Pandora couple killed in Florida
John Israel Steffen
Marilyn Jane Steffen