An Independence man faces homicide and several other felony charges in connection with Monday’s fatal crash at 23rd Street and Hardesty in Kansas City.
Authorities say Andrew K. Stark, 22, recklessly caused the death of Jason R. Lewis, 35, when he struck that man’s car Monday morning. Stark had been fleeing police when, witnesses say, he blew through a red light and smashed into Lewis’s car.
The Jackson County prosecutor’s office brought several charges against Stark on Tuesday. In the death of Lewis, there is a count of second-degree murder or, alternatively, first-degree involuntary manslaughter. The murder charge carries a possible prison sentence of 10 to 30 years; the manslaughter charge carries a possible prison or jail sentence of one to seven years, plus fines.
Stark has in the past been convicted of driving without a license five times and leaving the scene of a crash twice, charges he again faces in Monday’s incident.
The chase lasted two minutes. Independence and Kansas City police outline the events this way:
Just after 10:30 a.m., an Independence officer at 23rd Street and Hall Road in western Independence saw Stark’s silver 2004 Saab headed west at approximately 75 mph, almost causing the wrecks of two other vehicles.
The officer pursued. The Saab was weaving through traffic and at times topped out at more than 100 mph. Just past Interstate 435, Stark almost lost control of his car.
The officer continued the pursuit, but then broke it off east of 23rd and Topping.
At Hardesty, a few blocks to the west, Stark was still driving fast. Lewis was driving south on Hardesty in a green Chevrolet Caprice. He had two passengers, a 35-year-old woman and a 17-year-old girl.
Witnesses told Kansas City police they saw Stark run the red light and hit the Caprice. Lewis was killed, and the passengers were injured. The Saab hit the Caprice so hard that it pushed the driver’s-side door a foot and a half into the car’s interior, it bent the Caprice’s frame and it shoved the car into a yard.
Witnesses also saw Stark get out of his smashed car and flee, but one witness directed police to his location about a block away. He was arrested and taken to a hospital with minor injuries. He denied involvement with the incident and did not answer police questions, police say.
In addition to the homicide charges, Stark faces five other charges, four of them felonies:
• Two counts of second-degree assault in connection with the two passengers in the Caprice. Each carries a possible sentence of a year in jail or two to seven years in prison, plus fines.
• Resisting arrest, fleeing detention and a creating a substantial risk of injury or death to any person. The prosecutor’s office says Stark knew or reasonably should have known the Independence officer was making a lawful stop but that Stark “fled in such a manner that created a substantial risk of serious physical injury or death to other persons in that the defendant drove at an excessive rate of speed while weaving in and out of traffic.” The punishment on that charge ranges from a year in jail to two to four years in prison.
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• A misdemeanor charge of driving with a revoked or suspended driver's license. The Missouri Department of Revenue says Stark’s license had been revoked.