Kelli Anderson, 55, was charged on Friday with one count of reckless homicide and six counts of criminal recklessness in the crash that took the life of 28-year-old Kiana Burns.
According to court documents, police were called out to a multi-vehicle accident. On scene, officers discovered eight vehicles involved in the crash and a woman suffering from serious injuries.
According to witness testimony, Anderson was driving a Lincoln SUV and smashed into stopped vehicles. Anderson told officers she had been traveling north and tried to avoid stopped vehicles by veering to the left before she slammed into stopped traffic.
A witness said Anderson was traveling 50 to 60 miles per hour when she drove over the center median and barreled into traffic waiting at a red light.
Court documents identify Burns as the driver of the first vehicle Anderson struck, a gray 2009 Pontiac G6, that was rammed by the Lincoln and shoved into a Toyota Corolla and a Subaru Forester. Burns was transported from the scene in grave condition.
“She was my best friend. We talked a lot every single day,” Burns’ mother Denise Gatling said. “She called me about an hour and a half before the accident and I told her I loved her at the end of that call.”
Denise said her daughter was on life support and never moved or even opened her eyes. Two days after the crash, Denise took her daughter off life support and donated her organs.
“This was totally preventable,” Denise said. “It shouldn’t [have] happened.”
When police spoke to Anderson at the hospital following the accident, she reportedly told officers she was on daily medication, including Topamax, due to having “severe, life-threatening allergies and epilepsy.”
When officers asked Anderson if she had been suffering from allergies prior to the crash, she reportedly told police, “Honestly, I blacked out, ’cause I don’t remember what happened.”
Detectives connect Anderson to other cases
During their investigation, detectives discovered that Anderson had been involved in another deadly crash just three weeks earlier.
Police said Anderson was driving on May 19 when she crossed the center line and drove up on to the sidewalk. Investigators said she struck Dr. Brian Dillman during one of his daily walks. Dillman later died at an area hospital.
Court documents reveal that Anderson was discharged the day after the crash with a summary of: “neurology explained to the patient that she is at high risk of harm to herself and/or others and that she should not drive for 6 months until cleared by a neurologist.” The medical records stated Anderson gave a verbal understanding to this summary.
“This is two people killed within three weeks of each other,” Denise said. “It’s insane. It’s crazy.”
Investigators said Anderson has had an additional five at-fault crashes since August of 2019.
On Friday she was charged in the crash that killed Kiana. However, she is not facing charges in the crash that took the life of Dr. Dillman.
Denise said she hopes Anderson is eventually charged in Dillman’s death as well.
Kiana left behind four children, one of whom was born just last year. Denise said the children miss their mother and her death has devastated the family.
“It’s hard, it’s hard to watch them deal with their grief and me having to deal with mine only when I can,” Denise said. “We definitely got robbed. They got robbed. I got robbed.”
Anderson is set to be in court for her initial hearing on Tuesday.
We reached out to the Dillman family for comment, but have not heard back.