Woman accused in Nipomo hit-and-run was texting, court document says

ppemberton@thetribunenews.comNovember 16, 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 »

A woman who struck and killed a pedestrian while driving in Nipomo last weekend was texting when the accident occurred, according to a court document, and because she left the scene without notifying anyone, the pedestrian’s body wasn’t discovered for 14 hours.

Marie Marguerite Coyner, 23, of Nipomo, was formally charged with two felonies Friday — involuntary manslaughter and hit- and-run causing death. The District Attorney’s Office also filed an enhancement for causing great bodily injury on the victim, Christopher Corey Tietjen.

According to a probable-cause statement filed by the CHP and information previously released by the CHP, Coyner was driving a Toyota Prius southbound on Thompson Road, near Sheehy Road, in Nipomo about 9 p.m. Sunday. Tietjen, 24, was walking on the right shoulder of the road in the dark. 

Coyner, the report said, was texting on her cellphone and accidentally veered off the road and struck Tietjen. After the impact, she drove off and did not report the accident.

Tietjen’s body wasn’t found until 11 a.m. the next morning, partially hidden in grass and brush off the road. Once Tietjen’s body was discovered, the CHP quickly announced it was looking for a light green Toyota Prius, model year 2004-2009, based on car parts found at the scene. Several tips from South County residents led investigators to a 2007 Prius. Coyner, who has no criminal record, was eventually arrested at her workplace.

According to the report, she admitted to texting while driving and hitting “somebody.” She also allegedly admitted to not rendering aid or reporting the accident.

Coyner will appear in court for an arraignment Monday.

Texting while driving causes 1.6 million accidents a year, according to the National Safety Council. If proved at trial, this would be the first texting-while-driving fatality in San Luis Obispo County.

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