CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The woman accused of causing a crash that left a beloved West Side teacher fighting for his life, has never held a license to legally drive a vehicle in Ohio, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Public Safety said Wednesday.
Kayla Wilson, 23, has now been caught operating a vehicle without a license or driving despite a suspension four times since she was 14, said Lindsey Bohrer, an agency spokeswoman: in 2009, 2015 and twice in the last week - the day of the crash and two days prior.
Wilson has been under two driving suspensions since 2015, state record show. She was convicted Dec. 7 of driving under those suspensions anyway the same day Cincinnati police ticketed her for the offense on Clinton Spring Avenue in North Avondale, Hamilton County court records show.
Two days later, Cincinnati police say, she smoked marijuana and got behind the wheel of a car illegally once again and caused a crash that critically hurt longtime Elder High School teacher Mark Klusman.
Wilson was traveling south on Warsaw Avenue, speeding at about 50 mph, when she lost control of a Buick Regal about 11 a.m. Saturday, police wrote in a sworn statement.
The Buick spun sideways and hit a parked 2009 Chevy Colorado pickup truck.
Klusman was standing at the back of the truck and also was hit by the Buick, according to police.
He suffered multiple injuries that are life-threatening, according to police.
Wilson, meanwhile, backed the Buick away and fled the scene, court records show.
First responders rushed Klusman in critical condition to University of Cincinnati Medical Center. He remains in ICU.
Police searched for the fleeing driver and found the Buick abandoned shortly after at Third Street and Central Avenue in downtown Cincinnati.
From there, investigators say they tracked Wilson down.
She initially gave a false statement, police wrote in an affidavit, and then later confessed to:
- smoking marijuana before the crash.
- crashing her vehicle at the scene.
- knowing she believed she was driving around 50 mph and that speed was too fast for the road.
"She also admitted to knowing she was under suspension at the time of the crash, but did not know she struck the victim," the affidavit states.
Wilson was arrested Tuesday night and charged with two counts of aggravated vehicular assault and one count of failing to stop after an accident.
She spent the night in jail and made her first court appearance Wednesday morning.
She mostly stared down as she stood before Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge Josh Berkowitz.
Her face crumpled as she began to cry and she covered her mouth with one hand.
Her lawyer, Clyde Bennett, asked the judge for a reasonable bond. He said she has strong family ties to the area and little criminal record, a few misdemeanors and a failure to appear in court.
An assistant county prosecutor countered by asking for a high bond.
He said Wilson smoked marijuana before the crash, fled the scene and left Klusman with life-threatening injuries.
The judge concurred and set bond at $750,000.
A tearful Wilson walked out. She waved to a few people she clearly knew in the audience who were watching.
Elder school officials released a statement Wednesday thanked the community for an outpouring of prayer and support.
"We would also like to thank the first responders who cared for Mr. Klusman as well as the investigators who brought some closure by swiftly identifying and arresting the driver of the vehicle that struck him.
"While doctors are pleased with Mr. Klusman's progress, our attention and prayers remain fully focused on him and his team of skilled physicians as he continues to recover from his injuries. We will continue to respect the family's request for privacy at this time and will provide updates as permitted. Thank you for your consideration.
"May God be with you and yours as we await the celebration of our savior's birth at Christmas, and may He continue to watch over and bless the Elder community.