Police chase in Newark leaves pedestrian dead, another woman hurt

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Josh Einiger reports from Newark.

A pedestrian was hit and killed in Newark early Friday morning during a police chase.

The young woman was walking on the sidewalk with two friends on Washington Street near Court Street around 2:30 a.m. when she was struck.

Friday night, amid a mess of car parts and broken glass and twisted metal were candles and balloons in a memorial to a woman whose only mistake was to walk down the block.

"Everybody loved her," said Yvonne Willis, the victim's aunt.

Chynna Willis' devastated mother just had to see for herself, the spot where an out-of-control car flew off University Avenue and crushed the 24-year-old, who may not even have seen it coming.

"He had to hit her so hard from the impact her sneakers flew off," Yvonne said.

"I heard the skidding and then I heard the boom," a witness said.

It happened at 2:30 in the morning as prosecutors say Newark police were chasing a suspect driving a Dodge Charger, when he careened around a curve and jumped the curb. Eyewitnesses say cops were right behind him.

"It was three cars back to back like in a movie, the lights blazing and everything," said Crystal Warner, an eyewitness.

"Cars on top of the fence, people screaming, hollering," said Eugene Antwine, an eyewitness.

"My daughter was pinned they said, under the hood of the car," her mother said.

Willis wound up so deep in the wreckage, at first it seemed like she'd been in the car.

As for the driver, police got him right away.

"One person was like walking really fast, walking down the street and cops caught him right away," Warner said.

Prosecutors identified him as 45-year-old Ken Gunther. They won't say why cops had been chasing him, though sources say they found a large quantity of drugs in his car.

Chynna's family is demanding an explanation.

"I blame the cops for chasing him because whatever he did, I'm quite sure it wasn't that serious," Yvonne said.

"Was the drugs worth you all taking her life? Because we will never get her back," said Shaanna Willis, the victim's cousin.

Gunther sustained minor injuries and was treated and released from University Hospital. He has been charged with one count of eluding and one count of resisting arrest, but more charges are expected.

The investigation is active and ongoing.
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