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Long IslandCrime

Hempstead crash suspect Kayla Gerdes admitted to jail's medical ward

Kayla Gerdes is brought out of Nassau County

Kayla Gerdes is brought out of Nassau County police headquarters in Mineola to be arraigned on Wednesday on charges of vehicular manslaughter. (April 21, 2010) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

A Freeport teen suspected of running over a Hempstead woman did not appear in court Friday because she was admitted to a jail medical ward, court officials and her attorney said.

Kayla Gerdes, 18, was to make her second appearance on charges of second-degree manslaughter, second-degree vehicular manslaughter, driving while ability impaired by drugs and unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. She has pleaded not guilty.

Gerdes is accused of running over and killing Rebecca Twine, 69, of Cathedral Avenue, in front of her home Tuesday morning.

Police have said Gerdes was high on painkillers and that she took the wheel because she thought the van's driver, Brian Steele of Oceanside, was driving too slowly. She lost control of the vehicle, jumped the curb and hit Twine, police said.

Gerdes' attorney, John R. Lewis, said Thursday she may have mistaken the accelerator pedal for the brake.

Gerdes has been admitted to the jail's medical ward, Lewis said Friday.

Before the court session Friday, Gerdes' mother, Tara Oetjen-Gerdes of Freeport, told reporters, "I am deeply sorry for the family, and this is a horrible tragedy for . . . both families."

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