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Sheriff: Wisconsin girl killed avoiding distracted driver was wearing seat belt

ST PAUL - A 16-year-old western Wisconsin girl killed in an automobile crash last month when she swerved off the road to avoid an allegedly distracted driver was wearing a seat belt, authorities have now concluded.

ST PAUL - A 16-year-old western Wisconsin girl killed in an automobile crash last month when she swerved off the road to avoid an allegedly distracted driver was wearing a seat belt, authorities have now concluded.

Although the St. Croix County sheriff's office initially reported that Kyra Faith Hayes of Beldenville, Wis., was not wearing a seat belt when she was ejected from her SUV, an investigation of the crash determined this was not the case, according to a Friday news release.

The Oldsmobile Bravada's engine control module -- or "black box" -- indicated that her seat belt was buckled, and an autopsy performed by the Ramsey County medical examiner's office determined that her injuries were consistent with seat-belt usage, the sheriff's office said.

Hayes was the lone occupant of the SUV when it crashed on Wisconsin 35 near River Falls on the afternoon of Oct. 21.

A preliminary investigation revealed that her sport-utility vehicle was nearly struck by another northbound vehicle moments before the crash.

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The driver of that car, identified as 21-year-old Makellia S. Jensen of Big Lake, Minnesota, was witnessed with both hands on a cellphone “seconds before the crash,” the sheriff's office previously reported. Hayes, who was driving behind Jensen, took evasive action to avoid colliding with Jensen's car as it veered. Hayes' SUV crashed and rolled. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Jensen, who was not injured, stopped at the scene. The crash investigation continues.

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