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Public Safety

Linn-Mar students mark anniversary of classmates' deaths

Group working to raise awareness of distracted driving

Students at Linn-Mar High School involved with the group Standing Together Opposing Phones (STOP) While Driving teamed up with the Marion Police Department on Friday to sell wrist bands and give others a chance to put their name on purple “ribbons” designed to remember former students Selena Apodaca and Isabella Severson, who were killed in a crash in November 2016. (Submitted Photo)
Students at Linn-Mar High School involved with the group Standing Together Opposing Phones (STOP) While Driving teamed up with the Marion Police Department on Friday to sell wrist bands and give others a chance to put their name on purple “ribbons” designed to remember former students Selena Apodaca and Isabella Severson, who were killed in a crash in November 2016. (Submitted Photo)
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MARION — Linn-Mar High School students marked the anniversary of the deaths of two fellow classmates on Friday by raising awareness about the dangers of texting and driving.

Linn-Mar students Selena Apodaca and Isabella Severson were killed on Nov. 3, 2016, when the vehicle they were passengers in was struck from behind by a vehicle driven by Keith Furne, 36, of Cedar Rapids. The girls’ mother and driver of the vehicle, Jennifer Perez; was seriously injured in the crash. Two other passengers also were injured.

Furne was charged with two counts of homicide by vehicle and one count of serious injury by vehicle. Authorities have said Furne admitted to texting before the fatal crash, an admission backed up by cellphone data obtained in an investigation. Furne was in the middle of drafting a text when the crash occurred, according to the Linn County sheriff and attorney’s offices.

In October, a judge ruled that Furne’s trial will be moved out of Linn County, but a new county has not yet been chosen.

The trial, set for Jan. 22, may have to change dates, depending on where the trial is moved and how it fits into a new county’s court schedule.

Furne, who has pleaded not guilty and remains free on bond, faces up to 25 years behind bars on both charges if convicted.

Following the fatal crash, Linn-Mar students formed Standing Together Opposing Phones While Driving to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. On Friday, S.T.O.P, members teamed up with members of the Marion Police Department to sell wristbands to raise awareness about distracted driving and ask students not to text and drive, according to a Linn-Mar news release.

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Students also were invited to sign purple “ribbons” in remembrance of Apodaca and Severson.

l Comments: (319) 398-8238; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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