Archive for Thursday, February 22, 2007

Prosecutor: Vehicular homicide charges won’t be filed in fatality

February 22, 2007

A Lansing man who authorities said ran a stop sign last week that resulted in the death of a Tonganoxie woman and injuries to a carload from Basehor won't face vehicular homicide charges.

The three-car accident Feb. 14 claimed the life of 19-year-old Amanda Bixby, Tonganoxie, who was driving home from work in her Ford Taurus. Amanda's funeral was Monday in Tonganoxie.

According to the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office, as the two vehicles approached the intersection,

Ricardo De-Leon Flores, 20, Lansing, the driver of a northbound Toyota 4Runner, failed to yield at the stop sign on 158th Street. His vehicle struck a Dodge Durango and then the Taurus.

Flores was cited at the scene for vehicular homicide, failure to yield and no driver's license.

But Wednesday, Leaven-worth County Attorney Frank Kohl said his office would not pursue vehicular homicide charges against Flores.

Kohl said a 2002 Kansas Supreme Court ruling in State of Kansas vs. Bala Krovvidi held that the mere fact that a driver ran a red light or a stop sign did not satisfy the legal elements required for a vehicular homicide conviction.

"Based upon current Kansas law, it requires more than simply running a stop sign to get a vehicular homicide conviction," Kohl said.

The Dodge Durango was driven by Bill Nichols, who was taking his wife, Dawn Nichols, and son, Juston, home to Basehor. Also in the car were sisters Katlynn and Shelby Witt of Basehor.

Curtis Witt, the Witt girls' father, said everyone in the Durango was injured in the crash. The most serious was Katlynn, a 16-year-old junior at Basehor-Linwood High School.

Katlynn's left foot was severely damaged in the crash. And as of Tuesday, her father said he still didn't know if Katlynn's foot could be saved.

"It's a quality-of-life deal that's the issue we have to face," Witt said, his voice cracking. "At least we still have our girl."

He credited Juston, who was seated between his daughters, with saving them from further injury.

"He grabbed their heads and pulled them toward his lap and saved them," Witt said.

Juston suffered a forehead, wound that required stitches.

Witt said he wanted to attend Amanda's funeral, but their own life has been too complicated this past week. He said he hadn't known Amanda or her parents, Dennis and Denise Bixby, but realized they had much in common.

"Our deepest sympathies go out to them," Witt said. "This is just a tragic thing that has torn up three families."

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