Former 'Big Brother' star Tonya Paoni charged with reckless homicide
By Christopher Rocchio, 06/17/2010
Former Big Brother third-season houseguest Tonya Paoni is reportedly in big trouble.
Paoni -- who now goes by Tonya L. Casper -- was recently arrested in Illinois on reckless homicide charges stemming from an alleged DUI crash last summer that left two people dead, TMZ reported Wednesday.
The 43-year-old was arrested May 27 and charged with aggravated driving under the influence, reckless homicide, two counts of aggravated reckless conduct, two counts of aggravated reckless driving, DUI and speeding, Springfield's State Journal-Registerreported.
She is currently being held on $1 million bond at the Sangamon County Jail and is due back in court on July 19.
Police allege that Casper was driving on Interstate 72 west of Springfield last July 17 in a Toyota Corolla around 10PM when she rear-ended a Ford Explorer driven by Zachary E. Barnes, according to the State Journal-Register.
Barnes subsequently lost control of his vehicle, which went into a median and overturned several times. Backseat passenger Cameron S. Weider was thrown from the Explorer and pronounced dead at the scene.
After the crash occurred, Barnes' other passenger Eric J. Finneran was standing in the highway near the westbound lanes when a car driven by Alban Haxhinasto swerved to avoid him and instead collided with a Chevrolet Tahoe driven by Beverly Evans.
Another vehicle driven by Daniel Ramset then maneuvered onto the shoulder to avoid hitting the other two vehicles, however Ramset's car struck Finneran -- who was then pronounced dead at the scene, according to the State Journal-Register.
"There were five cars involved, so the reconstruction required more time," Illinois' assistant attorney Jennifer Kuntz told the State Journal-Register as to why the investigation took so long, adding Toyota's recent widespread vehicle recall also complicated things.
In addition, Kuntz said Casper is being held responsible for Finneran's death because it was her initial actions that started the chain of events that led to his death, the State Journal-Register reported.
Casper competed on Big Brother's Summer 2002 third season and was the second houseguest evicted.