Runaway NY van driver was high on Oxycontin, police say

One of the biggest stories in the New York Metro area last night was the death of a Hempstead woman, killed by a runaway van while she was gardening in her front yard.

Aerial shots of tire tracks in the grass and a van crashed through the brick facade of the house circulated on the evening news, and 69-year-old retired doctor Rebecca Twine-Wright did not survive the accident. The driver of the vehicle, Kayla Gerdes, became emotional both at the scene and during her arraignment today, where prosecutors allege that Gerdes crashed the vehicle, killing Twine-Wright, because she was high on Oxycontin and Xanax.

Gerdes says she was traveling at a high rate of speed after taking the wheel from her employer because she was late for a court date. Police say Gerdes, who is unlicensed, could not have caused the extent of damage that occurred if she were not driving well above the speed limit. Gothamist reports that the teenager was facing “facing grand larceny charges for stealing jewelry from her mother to sell for drugs” and that they dug this quote up from her Facebook wall before it was deleted:

“i can’t be having this conversation on her drama-ridden page. this girl got a chance to be rehabilitated. she’s ruining my uncles life with her bullshit. i’m not TECHNICALLY related to her, but she’s my uncles girlfriends daughter… She’s not a wonderful person. As I buried my grandpa, all she could talk about was leaving rehab to be with some guy… stupid stupid girl. She got arrested 3 times this month already. You’d think you’d get the picture, eventually.”

Kayla Gerdes was charged with DWI, vehicular manslaughter and driving without a license. Twine-Wright’s son Chauncey Wright says that if Gerdes is truly remorseful, she should plead guilty and ask for the maximum sentence allowable.