CRIME

Maria Werts arrested, accused of fatally striking Emmajean Gainey

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A Southwest Washington woman accused of fatally striking a beloved grandmother Sunday has been arrested. Police say the suspect admitted to smoking crack cocaine and drinking alcohol before the crash.

According to charging documents, Maria Nicole Werts drank two 12 oz. malt liquor drinks, took two shots of vodka and smoked a dime bag of crack cocaine before the crash. She also admitted to smoking marijuana three days prior.

Police say Werts barreled down 1st Street SW and made an illegal turn onto South Capitol Street just before 3 p.m. As her Toyota veered into oncoming traffic, another car honked. Witnesses say as Werts gestured angrily at the other drivers, she lost control of the vehicle.

Emmajean Gainey, 58, tried to get out of the way as the car raced down the sidewalk, but she was pinned against a tree and died on scene.

Police say Werts then got out of the vehicle and walked away, denying she was in a crash. Bystanders had to push the Toyota off Gainey.

After failing several sobriety tests, Werts, 49, was arrested and charged with voluntary manslaughter and driving while intoxicated.

“I just didn’t want to believe it. I still can’t believe it that it’s true,” said Naya Rogers, Gainey's granddaughter.

“She was sweet, kind. Everybody loved her,” added her granddaughter, Porche.

Gainey was a beloved figure in the Southwest neighborhood. She was a fixture in her garden, tending to her flowers and greeting neighbors.

For the past several years, Gainey cared for four grandchildren, ranging from ages 12 to 18.

"She took us in when my mother passed away," Naya explained.

While they mourn their grandmother, the children wonder what will happen to them now.

Several women showed up inquiring about the youngest of the grandchildren, which only increased fears that without the grandmother who kept the children together, this family would fall apart.

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