Smyrna woman faces charges; Pedestrian hit, carried 2 miles on car’s roof — (Delaware News Journal)

Original article no longer available

Delaware News Journal

By ROBIN BROWN and TERRI SANGINITI, The News Journal

07/22/2006

 Tanya S. Kunig is charged with second-degree vehicular homicide.

A Smyrna woman, who witnesses said had been driving erratically along U.S. 40 early Friday, was charged in the death of a pedestrian she hit — and carried on her car roof more than two miles, police said.

The body of Teresa Voiers, 44, of the New Castle area, was found lying face down on the shoulder of U.S. 40 surrounded by pools of blood when police stopped the suspect’s 1982 Volkswagen Rabbit shortly before 2 a.m. near Walther Road, state police spokesman Cpl. Jeff Whitmarsh said.

The driver of the car — Tanya S. Kunig, 25, of Smyrna — was charged with second-degree vehicular homicide and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

She is being held in lieu of $6,000 bail at Baylor Correctional Institution and faces a July 31 hearing.

The bizarre drama unfolded at about 1:15 a.m. when a motorist called 911 after spotting a motorist weaving on westbound U.S. 13 near New Castle.

The caller said the vehicle nearly struck another vehicle on U.S. 13, veered off the roadway and struck a curb in front of Wal-Mart on U.S. 40. She said the car swerved onto the shoulder and that she could see sparks and debris fly up.

“The woman caller was describing to dispatchers what she saw, and while on the phone said the driver hit something,” Whitmarsh said. “The witness followed the vehicle while continually calling out its position to dispatchers.”

Troopers were on their way as the two cars passed Wilton Boulevard and Appleby Road, but just beyond School Bell Road, the citizen on the cell phone said the Rabbit had swerved onto the shoulder, hitting something, police said.

The witness told police that she thought the car hit a mailbox, “but upon getting closer, she realized that the vehicle was carrying the victim’s body on the roof,” according to court records.

The car never slowed down and continued driving from Fir Avenue to Walther Road with the woman’s body on top of the car,

Fir Avenue is a three-block short-cut street that links School Bell Road and westbound U.S. 40 in an area called Fairwinds on the eastern fringe of Bear, a stretch of highway businesses, homes and churches.

Whatever the Volkswagen hit had flipped up onto the top of the vehicle and stayed there, police said, as the car passed the Del. 1 interchange, the Del. 7-U.S. 40 intersection at the heart of Bear and headed toward Glasgow.

State police patrol officers converged on the car just west of Walther Road, saw the object on the car roof and tried to stop the driver, Whitmarsh said.

When Kunig stopped her car, the victim’s body slid off the vehicle to the highway’s shoulder. There was a significant amount of blood on the car’s roof, hatchback door and the windshield and the right headlight was smashed.

Voiers was pronounced dead at the scene.

Officers who conducted field sobriety tests concluded Kunig, who lives in the 5700 block of N. Du Pont Highway (U.S. 13), was under the influence, Whitmarsh said.

Kunig was taken into custody and was held at Troop 2 on U.S. 40 near Glasgow, as members of the Delaware State Police Collision Reconstruction Unit continued the investigation.

At the time of her arrest, she was wanted on an outstanding warrant for failure to appear at a hearing in Kent County on a driving under the influence case in January.

During an interview Friday, Kunig told investigators that she was driving home to Smyrna from her job at Hak’s Restaurant, at 1050 S. Market St. in Wilmington and “felt a bump but didn’t know what she hit,” police said in court records.

Driver’s life a ‘sad story’

State police Cpl. Joseph Parker, one of the state’s newly certified Drug Recognition Expert, tested Kunig and found the woman was under the influence of central nervous system depressants.

Kunig told police that she had been taking Xanax “and requested to take more while being interviewed,” court records said.

Pending blood test results will determine what type of drugs are involved, he said, so police could not say conclusively Friday if she had taken prescription medications or used illegal drugs.

Kunig’s father Christian described the oldest of his two daughters as being troubled.

She married in 2000, but is estranged from her husband. The couple have two children, a boy, 5 and a girl 3 — both of whom are living with her aunt in Michigan.

“It’s a pretty sad story,” Christian Kunig said of the tragedy. “My daughter’s about as selfless as they come. She was actually getting it back together and was going to get an apartment and try and get her kids back.”

Her mother Susan said her daughter was taking six medications — anti-depressants, lithium and sleep aids — and is seeing a psychiatrist.

Christian Kunig said when he spoke with his daughter Friday afternoon, she said she was crying in her cell all night.

Both parents said they wanted to reach out to the victim’s family to offer their “extreme sorrow and condolences on their tragic loss.”

Delores Voiers described her daughter Teresa, the mother of two grown children, as a loving mother and kind-hearted woman who loved animals and people.

Contact robin brown at 324-2856 or rbrown@delawareonline.com.
Contact Terri Sanginiti at 324-2771 or tsanginiti@delawareonline.com