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Saga of Stephanie and John Kramer - and a red Corvette in river

John Kramer said a protracted dispute with his estranged wife came to a head Monday, leading to his rash decision.

JOHN KRAMER has no problem admitting that he jumped out of a speeding Corvette on Monday, sending the candy-apple-red sports car careening into the Delaware River.

"I just wanted to get rid of it," Kramer, 50, told the Daily News in a telephone interview last night. "I was sick and tired of everybody fighting over a car I paid $36,000 for."

The saga of how the car - which Kramer says he bought in summer 2013 as a birthday present for his oldest daughter - ended up in the river is a long, bitter story featuring marital problems and personal tragedy.

Both Kramer and his estranged wife, Stephanie, said they've been locked in a caustic divorce dispute for three years, a protracted fight that escalated in June when a son died of a drug overdose inside their home on Lansing Street in Mayfair.

Just days after that loss, Stephanie filed for a protection-from-abuse order after John smashed both windshields of her Ford Fusion with a pair of dumbbells, both said.

Coincidentally, while she was out getting her order, he tried to beat down the door of their home, smashing a pane of glass in the process, both said.

"He tried to take the whole door down," Stephanie told the Daily News last night in an interview at the Mayfair residence.

The couple's two teenage daughters, who were home at the time of the door-bashing, barricaded the door with a couch, Stephanie added.

But John said the whole incident was a misunderstanding: He suffers from bipolar disorder and was in desperate need of his medication.

The splintered family had settled the litigation in that incident last month, according to Stephanie. Since then, she said, her husband of 18 years has been "boiling."

John painted a different picture: He said he's a "victim" who's been "railroaded" by the order, which he claims contains false accusations of violence.

In any case, his anger peaked Monday, when he asked Stephanie to give him the keys to a minivan parked behind their house - which he was legally barred from visiting, per the order.

Stephanie balked.

"He had the Corvette, so I told him if he brought it back, he could have the minivan," she said. "There's no way he could have both."

But he wasn't ready to permanently part with the sports car he had bought, even though it was registered to his wife.

"I had no problem letting people use that car," he said. "I just wasn't gonna leave the Corvette there and let my daughter's boyfriend bang it up."

He said the daughter's beau has gotten into several car accidents and he "just knew" that the young man would be attracted to the souped-up Corvette.

So, instead, he proposed that his wife just give him a spare set of keys to the van, which he would only use when needed.

Eventually, the two worked out a deal, Stephanie said: She was prepared to hand over the van, but her husband was impatient and wanted it immediately.

"He texted my daughter and said, 'You have two minutes, or I'm putting the Corvette into the river,' " she said.

Minutes later, she received another text:

Too late; It's already gone. LOL

Later, as Stephanie was watching the evening news, she saw a bulletin about police searching for a red Corvette in the Delaware River.

About that time, a waterlogged John Kramer was walking home from the site of the action.

He had decided to ditch the car in the river from a "tiny dirt road" near State Road in Tacony, he said yesterday. He positioned the Corvette near the river's edge, revved the engine and gunned it.

When the speeding car was just a few feet from the water, he jumped out, rolling as he hit the ground.

But he miscalculated the speed of the car, he said, and ended up taking a dip in the river himself.

After climbing ashore, he told a witness not to say anything and began the 2-mile walk home, he said.

A few hours later, officers from the Police Marine Unit retrieved the vehicle and began their search for Kramer.

Yesterday afternoon, police said a warrant had been issued for Kramer on charges of violating the protection order, harassment and reckless endangerment - the latter applying to the officers who had to dive into the frigid water to get the car.

Last night, Kramer told the Daily News that he'd surrender to police this afternoon.

Meanwhile, Stephanie said that despite what happened she hopes for the best for John.

"I just want him to turn himself in and be safe," she said. "He's my daughters' father . . . he needs some help."