MORRISTOWN (WATE) – A Morristown couple has been arrested and charged after a hit and run crash that killed a special needs girl and left her mother with serious injuries.
Lex Dienst, 40, and Kristi Dienst, 29, were both arrested in Claiborne County on Thursday. Lex Dienst was later charged with vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident. He is being held on $500,000 bond.
Kristi Dienst is charged with filing a false police report and criminal contempt accessory after the fact and is being held on $250,000 bond. Her mother Trina Seals and her aunt Donna Potter are both also charged with criminal contempt for accessory after the fact for allegedly helping the couple avoid police. Each are being held on $100,000 bond.
Lex Dienst is believed to have been driving a blue Nissa Versa that struck pedestrians Amy Cupp, 16, and Christal Cupp, 37 as they were walking along Joe Hall Road Tuesday morning around 8:00.
Amy Cupp died from her injuries. Family members said Christal Cupp was in the intensive care unit at UT Medical Center on Tuesday night.
Police allege after fleeing the scene of the crash, Lex Dienst called his wife Kristi, to whom the car is registered, and told her to file a report with police that the car had been stolen.
“They’ve left somebody without their daughter and a community without a friend,” said Bunny Plummer, a family friend.
Plummer taught Amy and Christal Cupp in her special education class and coached them in the Special Olympics. She was devastated when she heard what happened.
“It’s upsetting, but you can’t be angry. You have to forgive and that’s hard,” said Plummer.
Family friends said Cupp and her mother didn’t own a car. They would walk to get where they needed to go.
To raise money for funeral expenses, Amy’s co-workers at Popeye’s set up a collection jar.
“She had an impact on my heart,” said Tiffany Witt, the general manager of the store.
She organized the idea.
“If I can’t do anything else, I just want to help. At least give her that much because she deserves it,” said Witt.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help with funeral and other expenses. Donations are also being accepted at the Popeye’s restaurant in Morristown, 127 East Morris Boulevard, where Amy Cupp worked.