Police release name of driver that caused crash killing Independence mom, severely injuring daughter

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Independence Police released the name of a driver who caused a deadly crash Tuesday on U.S. 40 Highway. He died, along with an Independence mother in the car he slammed into. Her daughter was seriously hurt.

Christina Pappas’ family is heartbroken over losing her. They said she was a bubbly, fun, and caring person. They hope people will take what happened to her as a lesson on how your choices can have serious consequences for others.

Lives changed in an instant Tuesday evening when Martin Withers hit and killed Christina Pappas when he drove his Porsche into her lane. Her aunt and cousin can’t believe she’s gone.

“She was a sweet, sweet spirit,” her cousin, Misty Packer said.

“I was just numb. I just remembered her laugh immediately,” her aunt, Erica Young said.

Pappas died instantly, and Withers died later at the hospital. Christina’s daughter, MaKaila Pappas has severe injuries, and will need several surgeries.

“It’s a sudden death. It’s not something you can prepare yourself for. I’ve worked in the ER. I’ve worked in the medical field. You prepare yourself for something. It doesn’t affect you as much, but when something is taken away from you that’s so precious to us,” Packer said.

Withers’ wife was in the car with him at the time of crash. She told friends after the crash not to ignore the signs of depression, to get help if you need it, and she was sorry an innocent life was lost.

“It’s not your fault. This is what God chose. I have accepted it, and my family has accepted it. Please do not blame yourself. Please take care of yourself, and your children, and your family,” Young said.

“God has a plan for all of us, and for whatever reasoning this was his plan,” Packer said.

Over the past five years, Withers had several issues in driving across the metro. In Clay County in 2017, he was cited for driving without a license, and driving in a careless manner that caused a crash.

That same year in Jackson County, Withers pleaded guilty to shooting a weapon along a highway.

In 2019, prosecutors charged him with resisting arrest and fleeing while driving on a suspended license. He died before those charges played out.

Police are still investigating the crash, and haven’t shared many details. They say there is a video of the moments leading up to the crash and they are reviewing it.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help with Christina’s memorial services. Another GoFundMe page has also been set up to help with MaKaila’s recovery.

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