A 9-year-old from New York has been left seriously injured after she was struck by an alleged drunk driver who strayed onto the sidewalk on the evening of July 21, according to East Aurora police.
The young girl was riding her scooter when she was hit by 30-year-old Erin Kuntz who was driving a Black Toyota Avalon west on East Aurora’s Main Street, police said.
Kuntz reportedly went off-road and hit a parked car before hitting the 9-year-old, leaving her with serious injuries. According to the victim’s family, the girl’s name is Lily, reported WKBW.
The family told the outlet that Kuntz also hit Lily’s 9-year-old cousin, Alex, who was on his bike at the time of the incident. Fortunately, Alex wasn’t injured.
Lily reportedly suffered a broken rib, a broken collarbone, a collapsed lung, and other injuries to her arm and leg, police documents revealed.
The girl, who is from Cheektowaga, was rushed by ambulance to Oishei Children’s Hospital to be treated for her injuries, and as of July 22, her condition seemed to be improving, police said.
Kuntz has been charged with vehicular assault, driving while intoxicated, marijuana possession, refusing to take a breathalyzer test, driving a motor vehicle on a sidewalk, and failure to use a designated lane, according to police records.
The 30-year-old, who has no criminal history, was arraigned and released from Aurora Town Court on her own recognizance, reported the Legal Herald.
She admitted to drinking alcohol before driving, and failed all sobriety tests, police said.
Kuntz appeared in court again on the afternoon of July 23, where she had her driver license suspended, reported 2 On Your Side.
The woman was initially scheduled for a court date in August but County District Attorney John Flynn was able to secure an immediate hearing after finding out that her driver’s license had yet to be revoked or suspended by the judge.
“I’ll wait for the blood, I’ll get the blood. Y’all know we’ll do an investigation, there’s no hurry on prosecuting the case. The only hurry here is getting her license taken from her. That’s my only hurry,” Flynn said before Kuntz’s license was taken.
Flynn said that Kuntz’s license should have been suspended in the first place because she had already refused to take a breathalyzer test.
“Even without hitting this poor nine-year-old little girl, if it was just a straight up DWI refusal, you still have to take the license,” he told WKBW.
Judge Jeffrey Markello described the decision not to immediately suspend Kuntz’s license an “error,” according to 2 On Your Side.
Paul Glascott, the District Attorney’s chief of the vehicular crimes bureau, said: “There should’ve been a prompt suspension of the person’s license. So we clarified that, reviewed the law with the judge and the defense attorney,”
Kuntz’s defense attorney, Daniel Chiacchia, said in a statement obtained by the outlet that Kuntz was “deeply sorry for all the pain she has caused this family.”
— Nikki DeMentri (@nikkidementri) July 22, 2019
“Since this tragic event, Ms. Kuntz’s thoughts have been consumed with [the child’s] welfare. Ms Kuntz was involved in a serious motor vehicle accident about nine years ago where she sustained multiple injuries that hospitalised her for a month and altered the course of her life,” the statement read.
“Her actions last night do not reflect the person Ms. Kuntz is.”
The case is next set to head to a grand jury.