TOWSON, Md. — A man has pleaded guilty to manslaughter after prosecutors say he used Snapchat, before causing a chain reaction crash last year in Arbutus.
On January 19, 2021, Dylan Shields and Luke Souders were driving along I-95 in separate vehicles near I-695.
According to prosecutors, Souders slowed down for construction that was going on in the other lanes.
Shields slammed on his brakes too late and struck the back of Souders' car. The impact caused Shields to strike a second vehicle that had been in front of Souders.
A fourth vehicle tried avoiding another collision, but ended up hitting the back of Shields' car.
That caused Shields' car to tip and land on Souders' vehicle, killing him.
In a victim impact statement given in court, Luke's mother, Eileen Souders, called her son's death senseless.
"We are broken and pained for the rest of our lives. Our beloved son, and brother, left us so abruptly and senselessly," Eileen read aloud. "He was 30 years old and was just starting to evolve into the promise of the man that he was meant to be."
Luke was a Human Resources coordinator at LifeScience Logistics, where he'd worked for nine-years. In his spare time, he worked for a small children's entertainment company.
At the time he was killed, Eileen said Luke was on his way to meet a friend to sign a lease for an apartment they were planning on moving into.
"Luke was going to start a new phase of his life," said Eileen. "However, on that day Dylan Shields was taking a selfie when he crashed into and killed Luke."
On the scene of the crash, Shields told police that he'd been reaching for a drink, but troopers suspected he was using his cellphone.
Shields ended up giving police the passcode to his phone. When they unlocked it, a newly taken selfie of Shields in the driver’s seat popped up, with the keyboard still on, showing a partially written Snapchat message.
A court approved search and seizure warrant on the phone revealed that Shields had continuously been on Snapchat and Instagram, since the time he left his job at Fort Meade that day.
Electronic data showed Shields set his car on cruise control at 65 mph, up until the deadly crash.
Prosecutors are recommending Shields spend 18 months in jail, followed by two-years of supervised probation.
Luke's father, Dan Souders, told WMAR-2 he is satisfied with the prosecutor's recommendation. He hopes others will learn from his son's story, and just put the phone down while driving.
Sentencing is scheduled for March 29.