More and more, Kyle Van Winkle’s death outside Arrowhead Stadium Sunday afternoon is looking like a terrible, easily avoidable tragedy.
Here are the sad, basic facts of the incident, as I have come to understand them from various reports.
Three or four people began whaling away at Van Winkle after he mistakenly got into the wrong vehicle.
Kyle Van Winkle
How do we know it was a mistake? Well, he had arrived at the stadium in a vehicle similar to the one that he got into about 5:20 p.m.
When the punching stopped, Van Winkle, a 30-year-old college graduate who worked at a credit union, was lying unconscious against a parked bus.
A Fox 4 reporter spoke with a woman who said she checked Van Winkle’s pulse and found it strong, at first. A few minutes later, however, after someone yelled that Van Winkle was turning blue, she started performing CPR but could not resuscitate him. Van Winkle, she said, did not throw one punch.
She also said the owner of the Jeep tried to leave the scene before police could question him.
That brings us to why – why in the world – this case of an ordinary guy stumbling into the wrong car ended up as a homicide.
The first point that needs to be made is that all the adults involved, including Van Winkle, a Smithville resident, probably were drunk.
Tailgating revolves around drinking. The tailgaters start up in the morning and charge right through the afternoon. Too bad this was a 3:25 p.m. game because the drinkers had three hours more than usual (when games start at noon) to get wound up. If it had been a noon game, Van Winkle probably would have been breathing air and pumping blood right now.
Have you watched those assholes in the parking lot? Yes, I’m talking about all of them – all who set up their shit, start campfires and start knocking back the beers. It’s ridiculous.
Don’t they have anything else to do with their Sunday mornings? What’s the matter with leaving for the game an hour before kickoff, drinking a couple of beers at the game, and going home?
Thanks a lot, Lamar Hunt, for bringing this nasty broth to full boil in Kansas City.
But the drinking is just part of the problem. The other part is that most of those drunks come with their warpaint on – figuratively.
Pro football offers up some beautiful, breathtaking, athletic feats. But at its core it’s about violence – the crashing of helmets, the twisting of limbs and the occasional grabbing of testicles.
Is it any wonder, then, that many fans arriving for the game are in a muscular frame of mind when they arrive? In the parking lots and inside the stadium, the testosterone is flowing, and more than a few women are calling for the Chiefs to yank some scalps out from under the opposing players’ helmets.
Back to Sunday, then. As it is every game day, the environment was ripe for a rush to judgment that Van Winkle was a no-good burglar whose “crime” needed to be dealt with summarily.
How do you think the same incident might have unfolded in the parking lot at Oak Park Mall?
Here’s my guess: The owner of the Jeep, seeing someone in his vehicle, would have lurked back at a safe distance to assess the situation. He probably would have pulled out his cell phone and called 911. He might have looked for security. He might have gone back into a store to have someone call security.
Would he have gathered up three other guys nearby and proceeded to pull they guy out of the car and thrash the shit out of him? In all likelihood, no.
But that’s what we’ve got with pro football these days: players suffering concussions and way too many fans letting their primal emotions run away with them.
I guess you want to know if I’m a Chiefs fan. Well, I have been, but for the reasons stated above, my interest has diminished significantly the last couple of years. I haven’t been to a game this year, and, after Sunday’s tragedy, I’m not planning to go back ever again.
I guess you want to know, too, if I’ve ever tailgated at a Chiefs game. No.
I have tailgated at a couple of University of Missouri games — but on fraternity-house grounds, where most people know one another. If somebody happened to get into the wrong car there, he’d just get laughed at, not pummeled to death.