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Driver could get 17 years with new charge in hit-and-run that killed Elder teacher

Kayla Wilson given a $1.5 million bond
Posted at 1:53 PM, Jan 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-09 10:53:47-05

A previous version of this story included comments attributed to Matt Klusman, nephew of Mark Klusman. The comments were made by Elder Principal Kurt Ruffing, not Matt Klusman. WCPO regrets the error.

CINCINNATI -- Hours before Elder high school students and staff planned to honor Mark Klusman with a memorial service on campus, the woman charged with his death was arraigned and given a $1.5 million bond.

Charges against Kayla Wilson were upgraded to aggravated vehicular homicide Friday, prosecutor Joe Deters announced.

Wilson, 23, is accused of striking Klusman during a community cleanup event in Price Hill on Dec. 9. Klusman died on the day after Christmas at University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

Deters’ office said Wilson faces the possibility of 17 years in prison if convicted of all charges.

Mark Klusman

Deters spoke to WCPO after a grand jury handed down more severe charges Friday.

"She was warned by a judge not shortly before this happened that she was not to drive under any circumstances, period, and she chose to drive, and she chose to drive high," Deters said.

Elder Principal Kurt Ruffing told WCPO Friday that Klusman was "a very forgiving man."

"Mark made it known that he was very concerned and felt sorry for the young lady who hit him," Ruffing said. 

Police said Wilson had been using marijuana and was speeding when she hit Klusman on Warsaw Avenue on Dec. 9. Her license was under suspension, according to her indictment.

Wilson is now charged with:

  • One count of aggravated vehicular homicide (Felony 1) for driving while impaired and with a suspended license;
  • One count of aggravated vehicular homicide (Felony 2) for driving recklessly and with a suspended license;
  • One count of leaving the scene of an accident (Felony 3);
  • One count of tampering with evidence (Felony 3). 

Wilson was going over 50 mph in a 25-mph zone and lost control in a sharp bend when she hit Klusman, according to Deters’ office. Klusman was volunteering with students to pick up litter as part of an Elder-Price Hill cleanup day and was standing by the side of the road near Warsaw and Wilder avenues.

Wilson fled the scene and abandoned her car downtown, Deters’ office said. She was arrested three days later.

Klusman, a 1961 Elder grad, was in his 51st year of teaching at the school. He was an active community volunteer, runner, coach and photographer.

Klusman's services were held Wednesday.

RELATED: Klusman wouldn't judge driver, teacher's nephew says