No cellphone for 2 years for driver in fatal bike crash

Associated Press

St. Johns — A woman accused of being distracted by her cellphone when her car struck and killed a bicyclist has been barred from using any portable communication device for two years.

“I don’t think she has a right to have a cellphone,” Clinton County District Judge Stewart McDonald said. “I think it’s a privilege.”

Police said Mitzi Nelson was distracted by her phone last fall when she hit Jill Byelich, 35, who was riding a bike near DeWitt, north of Lansing. Nelson pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge.

Nelson, 23, will spend at least 90 days in jail over staggered periods and must speak to new drivers about the dangers of distracted driving, the judge said Wednesday.

Byelich’s husband, Jordan Byelich, suggested the cellphone ban. He hugged Nelson in court before she was taken to jail.

Defense attorney Mike Nichols said he doubts he will challenge the sentence and phone ban.

“Mitzi may be just fine with that,” he told the Lansing State Journal.

Nichols praised Jordan Byelich’s compassion after witnessing the hug.

“That’s what it’s all about,” he said.