KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- The woman accused of hitting four teenagers in her car, killing one, on January 30, blamed police on Tuesday for turning an accident into something criminal.
At her news conference Tuesday morning, Tamika Pledger said today was her birthday.
"Today is my birthday," she said. "I never meant to hurt anyone."
She tearfully said that the whole accident has turned into a "monster."
"It was an accident. I am very, very sorry," she said through tears.
Pledger is charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter and three counts of reckless aggravated battery for the January 30 crash. She's accused of speeding when she hit four teenagers with her silver Mercedes-Benz at 13th and Troup. Tierra Smith, 16, a Raytown High School junior, died as a result of her injuries. Pledger claimed she was on her way to stop a fight involving her cousin. According to police, Pledger was traveling more than 50 mph in a zone marked 20 mph.
Some witnesses told police it appeared the driver swerved toward the pedestrians. Then, according to the document, they saw bodies flying.
Police and firefighters responded to the scene and found people “hurt, crying, screaming and attempting to flee the scene.”
Police say witnesses told them that when Pledger got out of her car, she said, “I am sorry. I am so sorry everyone, but I’m just protecting my family, too.”
“It’s just a sad situation man. I don’t even have ill (will) toward her, I wish she was more apologetic,” said Morris Letcher said, Tierra Smith's uncle. “She took a life. Accident or not, that’s something that we cannot take lightly.”
FOX 4's Robert Townsend talked to Smith's mother by telephone. Marla Smith says she and her family do not have any reaction to Pledger's comments and did not want to talk to the media.
Pledger says she will appear for her next court hearing on Friday, May 22.