23-year-old woman arrested in fatal hit-and-run in Nipomo

Tips lead officers to the owner of the car allegedly involved in a vehicle death

clambert@thetribunenews.comNovember 14, 2012 

Marie M. Coyner, 23, of Nipomo was arrested Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012, on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and for failing to stop and report a collision resulting in death. Original story »

Several tips from South County residents led CHP officers to a 2007 Toyota Prius they believe had been involved in a fatal hit-and-run in Nipomo on Monday.

Officers found the vehicle Tuesday morning, CHP Officer J.W. Townsen said. By that evening, they had located and arrested a Nipomo woman, 23-year-old Marie M. Coyner, on suspicion of felony hit-and-run and vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.

She remained in County Jail on Wednesday with bail set at $50,000.

CHP officers believe Coyner was involved in a hit-and-run that killed 24-year-old Christopher J. Tietjen of Nipomo.

Tietjen’s body was found off North Thompson Avenue, partially hidden by grass and brush, after the CHP received a report of an unconscious male about noon Monday.

However, authorities believe Tietjen may have been struck earlier, possibly the preceding day.

Preliminary information indicated the incident happened sometime after dusk Sunday and before 11:30 a.m. Monday.

Townsen said vehicle parts at the scene of the collision led investigators to determine that a light green Toyota Prius was traveling south on North Thompson Road near Sheehy Road at an unknown speed.

Tietjen was walking on the west shoulder when the Toyota left the roadway and struck him, killing him, authorities said.

Townsen said he couldn’t disclose where the vehicle was found; he also would not reveal what Coyner said in an interview with investigators. They are still investigating whether drugs or alcohol may have played a part in the crash; however, Townsen noted, Coyner was not arrested on suspicion of DUI.

Coyner doesn’t have a previous criminal history in San Luis Obispo County, court records show.

Townsen said tips from local residents played an integral role in the investigation.

“That’s the reason why we were able to find the vehicle and place somebody in custody for this crime within a relatively short amount of time,” he said. “The community in South County cared about what happened, and they made the phone calls.”

Tribune staff writer Patrick S. Pemberton contributed to this report.

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