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D.C. driver accused of hitting pedestrian twice in fatal crash

Thursday - 5/2/2013, 6:40am  ET

WASHINGTON - A D.C. woman killed Sunday was crouching against a tree as she allegedly was struck a second time by a drunken driver, who is now facing a voluntary manslaughter charge.

Emmajean Gainey, 58, of the District, was walking on a sidewalk near First Street SW and South Capitol Street Sunday afternoon when she was hit by a Toyota Yaris that had just cut off another vehicle, swerved and skipped the curb after making an illegal turn on red, according to charging documents filed with D.C. Superior Court.

Gainey and another pedestrian tried to get out of the way of the erratic Toyota. Instead, Gainey was hit twice. The first strike propelled Gainey into the tree and the second strike pinned her against the tree, court documents said.

Police say Gainey was partially crouching when she was hit the second time. She suffered blunt force trauma and died at the scene, court records said.

D.C. police say that 49-year-old Maria Nicole Werts, of Washington, was driving the Yaris and was intoxicated at the time of the crash. In charging documents, Werts is accused of having "intent" to kill and cause serious bodily injury to another person and of having a "conscious disregard of an extreme risk of death or serious bodily injury to another."

Werts is charged with voluntary manslaughter. She was initially charged with involuntary manslaughter and driving while intoxicated.

According to court documents, Werts had a .09 blood alcohol level after the crash, which is slightly higher than the legal limit of .08 percent. She admitted to police that she drank two malt liquor beverages and had taken two coconut vodka shots. She also told police that she smoked a "dime bag" of crack cocaine earlier that day.

However, Werts denied that she was driving the Toyota Yaris and told police that she got in the car to move it after the crash. Bystanders told police that they pushed the car off of Gainey and that Werts walked away from the crash, court records said.

Several people who witnessed the crash, including the passenger in the Yaris, identified Werts as the driver, according to court documents.

Werts was also driving without a license and the license plates on the Yaris had expired.

A preliminary hearing is set for May 7.

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