Teen charged with texting while driving in fatal crash

HAVERHILL – A teenager whose car collided head-on with another vehicle, killing a 55-year-old man, has been charged with texting while driving.

Aaron Deveau, 17, of Haverhill was driving a 2001 Chevrolet Malibu that crossed the center line and struck a 1992 Toyota Corolla operated by Donald Bowley Jr. on River Street near Cliffe Avenue, police said. The crash happened Feb. 20 around 2:30 p.m.

Bowley, 55, of Danville died March 10 at Massachusetts General Hospital from his injuries. Bowley and his passenger, Luz Selena Roman, 58, of Haverhill were airlifted to Massachusetts General Hospital after the crash. Deveau was treated at Merrimack Valley Hospital and released, police said.

After investigating the case, Haverhill police turned it over to the district attorney’s office. Yesterday, Stephen O’Connell, spokesman for that office, said Deveau is charged with: Motor vehicle homicide; texting while driving; two counts of texting while operating a motor vehicle negligently and causing injury; being a minor using a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle; composing, sending or receiving an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle; negligent operation of a motor vehicle; and operating left of center.

Massachusetts passed a law prohibiting texting while driving that took effect Sept. 30. New Hampshire’s law against texting while driving began Jan. 1 of last year.

All drivers face a $100 fine if convicted of a first offense in Massachusetts. Drivers under 18 face additional penalties: 60-day loss of license and completion of a court assigned attitude course. A second offense for an under-18 driver results in a $250 fine, plus a 180-day loss of license. A third offense brings a $500 fine and one-year loss of license. Drivers 18 and older face the same fines as those under 18, but don’t lose their licenses and aren’t required to attend an attitude course.

Officer Edward Watson, traffic safety expert for the Haverhill police, investigated the crash, along with the state police accident reconstruction team. Assistant District Attorney William Melkonian directed the probe for the district attorney’s office.

Bowley, a native of Exeter, N.H., who lived in Danville for most of his life, was a U.S. Army veteran. For the last eight years, he worked for Shea Concrete as a laborer. He was known for his strong work ethic, according to family and friends.

Donna Burleigh of Kingston, Bowley’s sister, said he was in critical condition at Massachusetts General from his admission until his death. Seeing him in such a severely injured state was extremely stressful for his relatives, she said.

“I hope I never see it again,” Burleigh said.

She also spoke about seeing other drivers texting and talking on their cell phones while she and other family members made the trips into Boston to see their injured loved one.

“It’s totally dumb,” she said.

Besides Burleigh, Bowley is survived by his daughter Dawn Frances Bowley of Danville; two sons, Donald Bowley III and Daniel Bowley, both of Danville; three grandchildren, Samantha Yeager, Derek Owen Yeager and Donald Bowley IV; his sister Sheila Thurlo of Raymond; two brothers, Bruce Bowley of Danville and Oscar Bowley of Goffstown; and several nieces and nephews.

“My brother was a good brother,” Burleigh said. “He’s going to be really missed a lot.”

She described him as a man who loved his country and his family very much.

“It just really stinks,” she said of the crash and his death. “It should never have happened.”

Love of America runs very strong in the Bowley family, Burleigh said, and they inherited it from their father, Donald Bowley Sr., a Navy veteran. Donald Bowley Jr. was stationed in Germany during the Cold War while their brother Oscar Bowley has served in both the Marines and Army Reserve.

Donald Bowley III is currently serving in the Marines and has been deployed to Iraq several times. His brother Daniel Bowley, a former Marine, has done three tours in Iraq.

A memorial service was held last Saturday on what should have been Bowley’s 56th birthday, at the Carriage Town Bible Church in Kingston, of which he was a member.