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Book Review

‘A Deadly Wandering’


Courtesy of Beaverdale Booksbook

Review by Shirley Shiffler

William Morrow & Company

Sept. 23, 2014



416 Pages

In “A Deadly Wandering,” Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Matt Richtel has written a gripping account of the tragic consequences of our modern use of technology. Early in the morning of Sept. 22, 2006, 19-year-old Reggie Shaw was driving on a Utah highway when he and his girlfriend began texting each other. Witnesses saw Reggie’s car swerving into oncoming traffic and minutes later a horrific crash occurred. The crash left two men, rocket scientists with wives and children, dead. Reggie denied he had been texting.

When the crash occurred, there were no laws in place against texting and driving and little research had been done to examine the “distracted brain.” Reggie was the first individual to be prosecuted for causing a deadly accident while texting and driving, and the case brought a new interest to the study of the neuroscience surrounding the use of technology and multi-tasking in today’s world. The story follows Reggie from his initial denial of being the cause of the accident, the tenacious police work and scientific evidence to bring him to trial, and ultimately to the amazing story of not only his admission of guilt, but also the road to his redemption. After serving his sentence, Reggie has emerged as a leading advocate against distracted driving, speaking emotionally about the fact that every day he has to live with the knowledge that his decision to text and drive killed two men, and the impact it had on their families, on his own family and his relationship with others.

In Richtel’s summing up, he states that Reggie’s story screams out to us to pay attention as individuals and as a society to know the risk technology poses in life, and to tame it. CV

Shirley Shiffler grew up in Urbandale, graduated from Drake University (twice!), and lives in the Beaverdale neighborhood.

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