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Stevens Point man sentenced for causing fatal 2010 text message crash

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Gavel & Stryker, made from Cherry & Ash, sold to Whitney Hoffman. By KeithBurtis (Flickr: Gavel & Stryker) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Gavel & Stryker, made from Cherry & Ash, sold to Whitney Hoffman. By KeithBurtis (Flickr: Gavel & Stryker) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

WISCONSIN RAPIDS, WI (WTAQ) - A Stevens Point man will spend 10 years in prison for causing a fatal traffic crash near Wisconsin Rapids while he was checking text messages.

When he gets out, 23-year-old John French will spend seven years under extended supervision when he leaves prison.

French struck a plea deal in which he would have been given nine years in prison for a three-vehicle mishap on December 6th of 2010 that killed 32-year-old Robert Walker of the town of Saratoga, south of Wisconsin Rapids.

Wood County Circuit Judge Todd Wolf added a year to the sentence, saying anything less than 10 years would have diminished the seriousness of the crime.

According to authorities, French blew past a stop-sign at Highways 73 and “Z” south of Rapids, when another driver tried but failed to avoid French’s SUV.

French's vehicle then swung and hit another SU- driven by Walker, who was ejected despite wearing a seat-belt.

French told officers he was texting his girlfriend, when he started getting numerous messages – and he was checking them at the time of the crash.

The fatal crash happened six days after a heavily-publicized state law took effect banning texting behind-the-wheel.

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