Archive for Thursday, February 5, 2004

Driver fined for role in crash

February 5, 2004

Brett Bidnick, the driver who fled the scene of an October fatality accident, will receive the maximum penalty allowable by law for his part in the crash -- a $500 fine and $60 in court costs.

The second driver in the accident, 22-year-old Kevin Swope, a Basehor resident and father of an infant son, died from injuries sustained in the crash.

On Oct. 9, 2003, Bidnick and Swope's vehicles collided at the intersection of Kansas Highway 32 and 166th Street. Bidnick fled the scene on foot before police or emergency medical services arrived.

He was cited in district court with failing to render assistance to an injured person, failure to report an injury accident, leaving the scene of a fatality accident and driving with a suspended license, all misdemeanors.

Wednesday morning, prosecutor Todd Thompson and Bidnick's attorney, Ed Gillette, agreed to a plea bargain.

Bidnick pleaded no contest to leaving the scene of a fatality accident. In exchange for the plea, prosecutors dismissed the remaining charges.

Gillette said he and the prosecution agreed to a $200 fine and 90-day suspension of Bidnick's license, which is already suspended, as sentencing for the leaving the scene of a fatality accident charge.

After reading statements from Kevin Swope's family and listening to a statement by Swope's mother, Carla Kaiser, Judge Gunner Sunby issued the maximum penalty he could by law, a $500 fine. A Kansas Department of Motor Vehicles disciplinary board will make a decision on Bidnick's license, prosecutors said.

In an emotional statement, Kaiser, with several family members seated close by, told the judge she didn't blame Bidnick for the vehicle accident but for fleeing the scene without helping her son, who lay injured inside his car.

"I do find it very hard this man left my son while he was in the car," Kaiser said.

"Mr. Bidnick has expressed no regret, no remorse for his actions."

He has also continually ignored his legal obligations in the past by being behind the wheel when he shouldn't have been, she added.

In Basehor Municipal Court, Bidnick was convicted of driving under the influence, his second such conviction, Basehor police said, and driving with a suspended license. A Leavenworth County district judge recently upheld the municipal convictions.

Gillette said his client, "who feels terrible about what happened," left the scene of the accident because he was "in a state of shock," and in need of medical treatment.

In the weeks following the accident, Bidnick did not come forward to police although they sought him for information concerning the accident. Gillette said he was in contact with police and the county attorney's office a day after the accident and advised his client not to discuss the matter with the police.

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