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Snacking deputy's crash costs Santa Clara County $5M

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POSTED May 22, 2013 7:54 p.m.

SAN JOSE  (AP) — Santa Clara County is on the hook for a $5 million settlement in a crash involving a sheriff's deputy who allegedly took his eyes off the road while eating a McDonald's hamburger, a newspaper reported.

Deputy Greg Markovic smashed into Diem Van Lam's Honda in January in San Jose, leaving Van Lam with injuries including broken ribs and a skull fracture, the San Jose Mercury News reported on Tuesday.

According to authorities, Markovic was driving around 4 a.m. Jan. 9 when he became distracted after biting into the hamburger and putting it down. He allegedly reached for his radio microphone, but fumbled, turning on his rear amber warning lights accidentally.

He crashed into the driver's side door of Lam's car while looking down to turn the lights off, according to reports by San Jose police and the county sheriff's office.

"The take-home message from this case is that distracted driving can affect anyone, at any time," said Michael Shea, Jr., Lam's attorney.

Calls to the county counsel's office and a sheriff's spokesman on Wednesday were not immediately returned.

Shea said the county is self-insured for the first $2 million. Its insurance company covers the rest.

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