Lithuanian: 'Oh, my God. I didn't know I hit someone'

news-vasciunaite3Vitalija Vasciunaite follows her mother out of a conference room.

It was an emotional Thursday morning as the young Lithuanian woman accused in a near-fatal summertime hit-and-run heard directly from the construction worker she allegedly crippled. Ironically, the July 17 incident at mile marker 103.2 on eastbound Interstate 64 occurred within sight of the massive granite marker that reminds drivers of the lives lost by Virginia highway workers.

Dabbing her welling eyes with tissues provided by a sheriff's deputy, 22-year-old Vitalija Vasciunaite also covered her mouth and cried quietly as Jose Porfirio Martinez-Quinteros testified about the car that invaded the coned-off eastbound right lane where he had just finished jack-hammering concrete forms.

"It happened so suddenly," the Spanish-speaking Martinez-Quinteros said through a translator. "I heard two of the cones being hit, and I looked up and saw the lights, and then it hit me. It actually threw me 20 feet."

Martinez-Quinteros, who reportedly hasn't worked since the incident, appeared for the September 30 preliminary criminal hearing with his right arm and right leg still encased in casts and moved slowly with the aid of a walker through Albemarle Circuit Court. He has filed a $5.35-million civil suit in the same court.

Another motorist on I-64 that night testified how she had tried to warn authorities about a menace on the highway even before the crash occurred. Dara Cole of Stuarts Draft told the court she first saw a dark Buick parked on a shoulder just west of Afton Mountain. When it started moving, the car would go about 50 miles per hour and suddenly change lanes.

"It was obvious to me that the vehicle was driving erratically, and I wasn't going to take a chance going around it," said Cole, testifying that she dialed 911 on both sides of the mountain before losing sight of the vehicle as it sped up in the vicinity of the rest area about a mile past the collision site.

Senior State Trooper Thomas M. Skehan explained how he saw the injured construction worker getting treated by medics before he set off in pursuit of the vehicle. He found it at the Miller School, where Vasciunaite had been living as a guest of her alma mater at the apartment of school employee Carl "Buck" Stout.

Stout testified he had been experiencing such a nasty cough that evening, he decided rather than try to sleep he'd sit outdoors at a small table. Around 4am, he said, the 1999 Buick he had lent Vasciunaite to attend a party in Harrisonburg returned.

"She backed the car into the slot and sat there for a few minutes before getting out," Stout testified. "She stumbled a little bit, but she'd hurt her back earlier that day, so I thought maybe she was a little stiff."

Then Stout noticed something else: "She was slurring her words a little bit."

Later, Stout noticed a broken headlight and a broken mirror, and the passenger window was missing. He confronted his guest who, he said, claimed that an unknown object had struck the car. When Stout's ex-wife called from Palmyra to say that police were looking for the Buick, Stout called the police.

Trooper Skehan testified that the vehicular damage he saw included a broken bumper and a dented quarter panel and that Vasciunaite first pleaded ignorance about hitting anything.

"Then she changed her story," says Skehan, "and said, 'I know I hit something. Was it in the area of the work zone?'"

Skehan informed her that it was a human.

"She said, 'Oh, my god–- I didn't know I hit someone.'"

At 8:59am, at least five hours after the crash, police reportedly measured Vasciunaite's blood-alcohol content at .15, nearly twice the legal limit.

For Vasciunaite–- appearing in court wearing tight stone-washed jeans, black stilletos, and a long-sleeved grey t-shirt reading "Peace Billabong"–- Thursday's hearing was her first courtroom appearance since August 26. Neither she nor her business-suited attorney David Heilberg offered any comment after substitute judge David Franzen certified the felony hit-and-run and felony maiming-while-intoxicated charges.

Prosecutor Jon Zug said a misdemeanor driving-under-the-influence charge may also get certified when the grand jury meets December 6. A former basketball player whose college career ended with the charges, Vasciunaite remains free on $15,000 bail.

Read more on: Vitalija Vasciunaite


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The jack-hammering of one lane was being done around three am?--or have I pieced-together the jigsaw puzzle time-line incorrectly?

Who was in charge of the demolition?

As you may know, Virginia is the only state that bans the use and sale of radar detectors. There is no evidence that the radar detector ban increases highway safety. Our nation’s fatality rates have fallen consistently for almost two decades. Virginia’s fatality rate has also fallen, but not any more dramatically than it has nationwide. Research has even shown that radar detector owners have a lower accident rate than motorists who do not own a detector.

Maintaining the ban is not in the best interest of Virginians or visitors to the state. I know and know of people that will not drive in Virginia due to this ban. Unjust enforcement practices are not unheard of, and radar detectors can keep safe motorists from being exploited by abusive speed traps. Likewise, the ban has a negative impact on Virginia’s business community. Electronic distributors lose business to neighboring states and Virginia misses out on valuable sales tax revenue.

Radar detector bans do not work. Research and experience show that radar detector bans do not result in lower accident rates, improved speed-limit compliance or reduce auto insurance expenditures.
• The Virginia radar detector ban is difficult and expensive to enforce. The Virginia ban diverts precious law enforcement resources from more important duties and this ban may be ILLEGAL.
• Radar detectors are legal in the rest of the nation, in all 49 other states. In fact, the first state to test a radar detector ban, Connecticut, repealed the law ââ?¬â?? it ruled the law was ineffective and unfair. It is time for our Virginia to join the rest of the nation.
• It has never been shown that radar detectors cause accidents or even encourage motorists to drive faster than they would otherwise. The Yankelovich ââ?¬â?? Clancy ââ?¬â?? Shulman Radar Detector Study conducted in 1987, showed that radar detector users drove an average of 34% further between accidents (233,933 miles versus 174,554 miles) than non radar detector users. The study also showed that they have much higher seat belt use compliance. If drivers with radar detectors have fewer accidents, it follows that they have reduced insurance costs ââ?¬â?? it is counterproductive to ban radar detectors.
• In a similar study performed in Great Britain by MORI in 2001 the summary reports that "Users (of radar detectors) appear to travel 50% further between accidents than non-users. In this survey the users interviewed traveling on average 217,353 miles between accidents compared to 143,401 miles between accidents of those non-users randomly drawn from the general public." The MORI study also reported "Three quarters agree, perhaps unsurprisingly, that since purchasing a radar detector they have become more conscious about keeping to the speed limit..." and "Three in five detector users claim to have become a safer driver since purchasing a detector."
• Modern radar detectors play a significant role in preventing accidents and laying the technology foundation for the Safety Warning System® (SWS). Radar detectors with SWS alert motorists to oncoming emergency vehicles, potential road hazards, and unusual traffic conditions. There are more than 10 million radar detectors with SWS in use nationwide. The federal government has earmarked $2.1 million for further study of the SWS over a three-year period of time. The U.S. Department of Transportation is administering grants to state and local governments to purchase the SWS system and study its effectiveness (for example, in the form of SWS transmitters for school buses and emergency vehicles). The drivers of Virginia deserve the right to the important safety benefits that SWS delivers.

Please sign this petition and help to repeal this ban and give drivers in Virginia the freedom to know if they are under surveillance and to use their property legally:

Hawes likes to comment on the attire and level of attractiveness of female college students. Who doesn't? It's his paper.

ââ?¬Å?Peace Billabong”???

Is her attorney so incompetent that he didn't even advise his client on appropriate courtroom attire?
Spencer is right to point that out in his piece; it's relevant.

"I didn't know I hit someone".....hmmm...yeah that thump you heard was just another safety cone...they're free game on the interstate...Oh, you didn't know that you were NOT suppose to run over the cones? Well, now you do!

Hey Radar detector guy, I completely agree with you however, here in the "commonwealth" they don't want you, just your money. They would rather try to enforce a law for revenue v. the what the citizens want.
Maybe, the year we get a strip club in this town is the same year you can smoke pot and use your radar detector leagally.

Jeff D, alot of interstate work is done at night to avoid heavy traffic volumes...just VDOT's way of trying to keep everyone happy...but you can't please everyone

There can be no excuses from this female. She whacked him good. Accidents happen, but she was obviously negligent. Sock it to her.

Bizarre headline. I'm not sure what her being Lithuanian has to do with the story. It would have been as relevant to title the article, "Woman in stone-washed jeans: "Oh my God. I didn't know I hit someone." For that matter, it's odd to spend a paragraph on the attire of her and and her lawyer. Just stick to the facts. They're sad enough on their own.

"hurt her back?" "slurred her words a bit?" "didn't know I hit someone!" How about her "BAC"(blood alcohol content)hurt(someone)!

This is another example of punks- irresponsible punks........

Not sure, but I bet the result of this in Lithuania would be a lot harsher than it will be here...........

Lithuanian? Are you serious?

What dfoes a RADAR detector have to do with hitting someone wjile you are drunk? RADAR detectors are used to slow down so that you can speed up again.

I came from a RADAR detector state and was hooked on one for many years of driving. Do the math, as you have to drive quite a distance at 10-20 mph over the limit to "save" any time at all. To save an hour the trip has to be 300 miles minimum....and you can't stop or you loose your advantage.

no way. it was the car's fault. time to sue the auto industry.

I was 18 and shooting up cocaine while driving down the interstate. It was not possible to shoot up and watch he road simultaneously, when I heard those cones bouncing off the bumper I looked up just in time to see the 2x12 lumber barricade crash into several workers with enough momentum to decapitate one of them.Another worker was dismembered (lost his arm). The maker of those lumber barricades was sued and had to pay a multi-million dollar settlement. I was never caught but I had to live with this ever since, which I believe is just punishment because both the workers were illegal aliens.

Unfortunately, it's extremely unlikely that Ms. Vasciunaite will ever be in a position to compensate her victim for the injuries he has suffered, so as soon as she has paid whatever she can and she has served her time, she should be taken directly from prison to Dulles Airport where she should be escorted onto an international flight that connects to a flight to her native country. She should NEVER be allowed to return to the United States for any reason unless and until Martinez-Quinteros has been adequately compensated (Maybe not $5.35M, but certainly more than $1M).