Archive for Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Prosecutor considers charges in area fatality

Crash in August took woman’s life

November 9, 2005

The Leavenworth County attorney is reviewing officers' reports from an August fatality accident to determine whether to file criminal charges.

The accident claimed the life of 52-year-old Rita Dally, who lived south of Tonganoxie on DeHoff Drive.

The accident occurred about 7:30 a.m. Aug. 16 on U.S. Highway 24-40 as Dally was stopped to make a left turn onto Honey Creek Road. Her 1997 Dodge Caravan was struck from behind by a 1998 Ford Explorer driven by rural Tonganoxie resident Sara J. Schlicht, who was 16 at the time.

The impact forced Dally's van into the oncoming lane of traffic, where it was struck again -- by a 1993 Buick passenger car driven by Timothy L. Bohannan, Kansas City, Mo.

County Attorney Frank Kohl said Monday that he had received the final accident report last Friday and that he had talked with the Kansas Highway Patrol trooper who was the lead investigator into the accident.

"We've been looking at it," Kohl said of the report.

He said he's unsure whether charges will be filed because the report refers to inattentive driving on Schlicht's part. In past court cases, he said, inattentive driving has not been enough to charge a driver with vehicular homicide.

"Inattentive driving is not enough to carry the burden, which really bugs the daylights out of me," Kohl said.

It is possible, however, to consider a driver's history, including other accidents. Kohl said

"We haven't closed the book on it at all," the county attorney said. "I want to get as much information as we can before I make a decision whether to file."

According to the Kansas Highway Patrol's final accident report, officers initially believed that Dally was not wearing her seatbelt at the time of the crash. At the request of her husband, Robert, officers reviewed that initial finding.

"Robert stated in the 22 years they were married she always wore it and wore it properly," Trooper Jason Wohlgemuth wrote in his report.

Additional investigation revealed that Dally was wearing her seatbelt, Wohlgemuth said.

Three days after the accident, highway patrol troopers also learned that Schlicht's vehicle had two passengers -- rather than the one she initially reported to officers. After the accident, officers were told that Rob Schlicht, Sara Schlicht's younger brother, was in the vehicle.

But later they were told that Beau Waters, who lives south of Tonganoxie and was 16 at the time of the accident, was in the back seat. Officers said Waters told them Schlicht didn't want to anger her parents by letting them know she had another passenger.

"Beau further advised that bystanders let him leave and get on a school bus that came through the scene," patrol trooper Jesse Johnson said in the report.

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