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Archive for December, 2017

I know you wouldn’t want me to forget about the irresponsible asshole who barreled down the 23rd Street ramp off I-435 in September, killed two people and left a third with a brain injury.

Don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten. I’ve been waiting patiently for the case to go from the Kansas City Police Department to the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office, and that has now happened.

The case was at the police department for more than two months — the crash occurred Sept. 17 — while investigators awaited the results of toxicology tests. The toxicology report came back recently, and police sent the case file on to Jean Peters Baker’s office.

Mike Mansur, spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, told me prosecutors would be reviewing the case as soon as this week.

The toxicology report is not a matter of public record at this point, but I will not be surprised if it shows the driver of the black pick-up truck that rammed an SUV and triggered a four-vehicle collision was under the influence of illegal drugs, prescription drugs, alcohol or a combination of those elements.

Investigators have not released the name of the driver, but he is 35-year-old Terry A. Gray of Independence.

Gray’s name appears in Jackson County Circuit Court records as the defendant in two civil damage suits filed recently by people apparently related to 3-year-old Ryan Hampel, who was killed in the chain-reaction crash.

Fox4 News has identified one of the plaintiffs, Jaime Hampel, as Ryan’s mother. The plaintiff in the other case is Matthew Hampel, who could be Ryan’s father. (Jaime and Matthew do not share the same address, so I presume if they were married, they no longer are.)

I expect the prosecutor’s office to bring some serious criminal charges against Gray soon. Usually, the maximum charge that can be brought against a reckless driver in a fatality case is involuntary manslaughter, but state law provides for second-degree murder charges when a driver is drunk or impaired.

That was the case with James Leroy Green, the drunk driver who killed David and Jennifer Beaird’s two children on Labor Day 2016 on I-70 at Adams Dairy Parkway. Green is now serving a 25-year prison term after pleading guilty to two counts of second-degree murder. (As regular readers know, I have followed that case closely and have stayed in contact with the Beairds, who were preparing to move from Warrenton, MO, to upper New York State the last time I was in contact.)

In the 23rd Street case, cell phone video taken by a bystander shows that after the crash, the driver — Gray — walked aimlessly around his truck, picking up pieces and finally kicking a piece that had come off. Fox4┬áreported that during the entirety of the 12-minute video, the driver never left the immediate vicinity of the truck, even though victims in nearby vehicles were dead or dying. It is a shocking and disgusting display of self-absorption and disregard for the welfare of others.

Witnesses said the pick-up had been speeding northbound on I-435, weaving in and out of traffic, before hurtling down the 23rd Street ramp. There it plowed into an SUV, which, in turn, hit two other vehicles as it flew into the intersection. Ryan Hampel was in one of the two vehicles struck by the SUV. Also killed was 16-year-old Samantha Raudales, a passenger in the SUV. Her father, Geovanny Raudales, suffered a serious brain injury.

The pick-up and the SUV continued through all four lanes of 23rd Street and ended up next to a rock wall on the north side of the intersection. The video shows vehicles strewn about and bystanders crowding around them, while Gray stews about the remains of his truck.

Samantha Raudales

I have exchanged Facebook messages with Evelyn Raudales, a daughter of Geovanny Raudales. The last time I heard from Evelyn, her father was in a rehab hospital in Johnson County and was making progress. She said she didn’t know if he would make a full recovery.

It’s frustrating to know that the Terry A. Gray has been free the last two and a half months, but I believe his days as a free man are soon coming to an end.

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