CHP says CA woman distracted by phone kills 2 people, gets misdemeanor

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Thursday, June 9, 2016
CHP says Camarillo woman distracted by phone kills 2 people, gets misdemeanor charge
Police said Rachel Hill was distracted by her cellphone when she struck and killed two people. She was charged with misdemeanor manslaughter.

MOORPARK, Calif. -- Two grieving widows who lost their husbands in what the California Highway Patrol called a distracted driving crash were shocked to find out the driver accused of killing them was charged with misdemeanor manslaughter.

Jesse Cushman, 43, and Maciek Malish, 53, were killed by a car in Moorpark when they were struck by Rachel Hill of Camarillo, Calif. according to police.

"My life is ruined, of course, and I don't know how to live without my husband, but at least I expect justice for him," Elizabeth Malish, Maciek Malish's wife said.

Authorities said Maciek Malish, an Emmy award-winning sound editor who worked on numerous TV shows including the hit series "Lost," was riding his bicycle along Moorpark Road near Tierra Rejada Road when he was hit by the car driven by Hill on Sept. 12.

Police said Hill then over-corrected and crashed head-on into Jesse Cushman, who was riding a motorcycle. The police report stated Hill was distracted by her cellphone.

Both men died at the scene and the CHP recommended Hill be charged with felony vehicular manslaughter.

But the Ventura County District Attorney filed misdemeanor charges. The decision has outraged the victims' families.

"How can you do something illegal, have total disregard for somebody else's life, ultimately kill two people and get a slap on the wrist. How is that just?" asked Julia Cushman, Jesse Cushman's wife.

"You can text, kill people, and you get away with this," Elizabeth Malish said. "It's very wrong because we're going to say to other people that this is OK to do it and you are actually not punished."

Hill's attorney said she was not on her phone at the time of the crash, but just prior to it.

"Rachel maintains and the evidence supports that she was on her phone a minute or two prior to the accident, but not actually at the time of the accident itself," Doug Ridley, Hill's attorney said.

Both Elizabeth Malish and Julia Cushman said they would fight for justice for their loved ones.

"I'm pushing through for him. I'm fighting and pushing through this for him because I know I have to," Julia Cushman said.

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