Sioux Falls, SD
A repeat drunk driver returned to court Monday, facing her most serious charges yet.
As Tammy Kvasnicka sits in jail, accused of vehicular homicide, a Sioux Falls family is dealing with the consequences of the crime. Kvasnicka is accused of killing 27-year-old Michael Xayavong after authorities say she got drunk, got behind the wheel and drove the wrong way down the Interstate.
Troopers got the call at two Saturday morning. The accident was on Interstate 229 between Western and Minnesota Avenues. What they found when they arrived, they say, is an all too-common result of drinking and making a bad decision to get behind the wheel and drive.
The Highway Patrol says 28-year-old Tammy Kvasnicka made a series of bad choices, and they wish they could have stopped her before her decisions turned deadly.
“I really can't begin to relay my frustration with it. We had plenty of troopers working that night. We had been working that area. We had removed drunk drivers from that same area prior to this crash on this very night,” Lt. Alan Welsh of the South Dakota Highway Patrol said.
The first trooper to arrive at the crash was just a half mile up the road. Investigators believe Kvasnicka got onto the interstate using the Minnesota Avenue exit.
“There's no question that this girl was intoxicated and I think that she's obviously made this decision in the past and all we can do is try to remove these people from the road,” Welsh said.
Not only was she going in the wrong direction, troopers say she was all over the road, and the BMW's driver had little time to react but was able to swerve at the last minute.
“I would guess, looking at the damage to the vehicles that his maneuver to go to the left was a good decision. Otherwise, it might have been a complete head on collision,” Welsh said.
Investigators are still working to determine exactly who was and wasn't wearing seat belts, and they don't know exactly how fast the vehicles were traveling. But they say the blame can be squarely placed on a decision to drive after drinking.
“The problem is that somebody made a decision to drive when they were absolutely in no condition to drive and they did it putting everybody out there at risk,” Welsh said.
In addition to DUI, Kvasnicka is charged with vehicular homicide and vehicular battery.
The judge set bond at $100,000 cash only.
If she comes up with the money, she'll be placed on the 24-7 sobriety program. If found guilty of vehicular homicide, she'll face a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.