Archive for Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Court date in fatal wreck continued

June 6, 2007

A court appearance for a Lansing man whose collision with two vehicles claimed the life of a 19-year-old Tonganoxie woman has been continued.

Ricardo DeLeon Flores, 20, was scheduled to appear in Leavenworth County District Court for traffic violations today, but his appearance was continued until 8:30 a.m. June 27 at Leavenworth County Justice Center.

Amanda Bixby, a 2005 Tonganoxie High School graduate, was two months shy of her 20th birthday when she was killed in a three-vehicle accident on Valentine's Day this year at 158th Street and U.S. Highway 24-40.

Police say Flores failed to yield at a stop sign on 158th and headed north across U.S. 24-40, striking a Dodge Durango and then Bixby's Ford Taurus.

Flores was set to appear today for several traffic violations: excessive speed, failure to yield, driving through a stop sign and having no valid driver's license.

After the accident, Flores potentially faced a vehicular homicide charge, but Leavenworth County Attorney Frank Kohl opted not to pursue the charge because of a 2002 Kansas Supreme Court ruling. In state of Kansas vs. Bala Krovvidi, the court ruled 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 in a February interview.

Dennis Bixby, Amanda's father, wants to update Kansas law.

He's been working with Rep. Kenny Wilk, R-Lansing, and Sen. Roger Pine, R-Lawrence, on legislation at the Statehouse that would change the law. The proposed legislation also would allow drug testing at the site of a crash.

Bixby said that, so far, there's no opposition to the proposed legislation in Topeka. Until the measure is assigned a bill number, it is known simply as "Amanda's Law."

Wilk and Pine advised Bixby that he would be called to testify at the Capitol during the summer session.

Locally, steps have been taken to make 158th and U.S. 24-40, which is notorious for severe accidents, a safer intersection.

On April 18, one day shy of what would have been Amanda's 20th birthday, Leavenworth County commissioners approved a city of Basehor request to grind rumble strips and install two streetlights at the intersection.

"I really appreciate the Leavenworth County commissioners and the city of Basehor for taking the initiative for making the improvement at 158h and 24-40 Highway.

"That meant a lot to me and my wife. We're just so glad they're doing that."

During the Feb. 14 accident, the Durango that Flores' vehicle first collided with carried five people, driver Bill Nichols and four passengers: his wife, Dawn, 15-year-old son, Juston, and family friends Katelynn and Shelby Witt, who are 16 and 14.

Katelynn suffered a severe foot injury, which was treated at the University of Kansas Hospital.

"Hindsight's always 20-20," Bixby said. "And I'm a dad and I'm probably not looking at this totally unbiased.

"But now, there's a young lady trying to get her life back together with almost losing her foot."

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