Woman admits to taking drugs before striking car, signs in City of Tonawanda

TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — It was vehicle debris that led police in the City of Tonawanda to 65-year-old Donna Hettinger — a woman accused of causing loads of driving-related damage while high on drugs.

On Tuesday afternoon, police say the Tonawanda woman was driving on Delaware St. when she crashed into another vehicle, but kept going.

The driver of the vehicle that was struck began to follow Hettinger, who proceeded to drive on the sidewalk and knock down four city signs, police say. Authorities say the victim kept in contact with police via cell phone during the incident.

Eventually, police say Hettinger got back on the road, but the driver who she allegedly struck lost track of her location.

Police investigating the matter began to take notice of vehicle debris they say was left behind by Hettinger. They followed it all the way to the McDonalds restaurant on Main St., where they say they found her “confused and disoriented.”

This is when police called in help from the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, who sent a drug recognition expert to see whether Hettinger had been driving sober or not. She was then taken to ECMC for a blood test.

Tonawanda City Police Captain Fredric Foels said, “During the course of the investigation, she told the officers that she took 5 or 6 hydrocodone pills.”

Foels added, “But the law, the way it’s written, it’s just the same if you were smoking crack cocaine in the car, although these were pills were prescribed to her, she took way too many to be in that impaired condition.”

Hettinger will answer charges of driving while impaired by drugs and leaving the scene of an accident next week in court.

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