A life ruined by distracted driving, an apology, and forgiveness

Laura Berg, 34, of Fergus Falls, Minn., is lucky to be alive. Jordan L. Paulus, 21, of East Bethel, Minn., is lucky she’s not going to prison for being on her cellphone when she should’ve been paying attention to driving when she plowed into Berg, who was on a road crew, putting her in a coma for two months.

The Star Tribune says Paulus pleaded guilty to gross misdemeanor charges of reckless driving because the county prosecutor didn’t think he could get a conviction on more serious charges.

Tony Palumbo didn’t file felony charges because the law requires the presence of “egregious driving conduct and negligence,” he told the Strib.

This is the state’s distracted driving problem: playing on Snapchat instead of paying attention to driving and almost killing people isn’t egregious enough to warrant significant prosecution.

When he refused to prosecute felony charges last summer, the prosecutor explained that the charges required “ two elements: egregious driving conduct and negligence.”

Paulus will pay a price of 15 days of work release followed by 15 days of home monitoring, and pay $1,000. She could’ve gotten a year in jail and a $3,000 fine.

“The thing that gets me is that she hasn’t even tried to apologize,” Berg told Fox 9 last summer.

But after hearing an apology last week, Berg was forgiving.

“As soon as she apologized she was crying, and I felt really bad for her,” Berg told Fox 9. “I wanted to get up and hug and say, ‘Hey, I don’t hate you, I forgive you.’”

She’ll never be able to work again, but she says she is going to work on increasing protections for Minnesota road construction workers.