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How Snapchat and stupidity almost left five people dead

Updated 4 years ago
Published Apr 28th, 2016 11:07AM EDT
Snapchat Speed Filter Accident

Snapchat’s speed filter is an awful, awful idea. For those unaware, it’s a feature of the popular messaging app Snapchat that uses sensors in a smartphone to record the speed at which a user is traveling when he or she sends a message. Users earn trophies for reaching high speeds, so needless to say they often try to send snaps from fast-moving cars. And if they’re stupid enough, they try to send snaps while they’re driving fast-moving cars.

Enter Christal McGee, an 18-year-old girl from Atlanta who almost killed herself and left another driver with brain injuries when she struck his car at over 100 mph while using Snapchat.

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There is little question that Snapchat’s speed filter encourages young users to do things that aren’t smart, but it takes someone truly special to push things as far as Christal McGee did. While driving her parent’s Mercedes down the highway in Atlanta, Georgia last September, McGee decided to test the limits of the speed filter.

With three passengers in the car, McGee used Snapchat to take selfies while traveling at speeds as fast as 113 mph, according to the speed filter in the Snapchat app. With her attention on her phone instead of on the road, the teenager didn’t see Wentworth Maynard merging onto the highway ahead.

McGee struck the man’s car while traveling at 107 mph, a lawsuit filed by Maynard says. According to NY Daily News, the lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from McGee and Snapchat, which is named in the lawsuit because the company’s speed filter “motivated” McGee’s reckless driving. Maynard, an Uber driver, was left with brain damage that his lawyers say will prevent him from doing his job.

“We’ll see to it that Christal McGee is held responsible, but we also want to see Snapchat held responsible,” one of Maynard’s attorneys said in a statement. “This is a product liability case because Snapchat put something very dangerous in the marketplace without any warnings or safeguards, and basically said, whatever happens, happens.”

And now, the cherry on top: Following the crash that could easily have left all five people dead, McGee sent the following snap while lying bloody on a gurney in the back of an ambulance:

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content.

Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment. His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.