An Independence man faces multiple felony charges in connection with the Sept. 17, 2017 crash at Interstate 435 and 23rd Street that killed two girls in separate vehicles and injured two others.
Jackson County prosecutors have charged Terry Gray, 51, with two counts each of driving while intoxicated, resulting in death and DWI, serious physical injury – with alternative counts of involuntary manslaughter and second-degree assault.
The Sunday afternoon crash killed 16-year-old Emely Raudales of Shawnee, Kansas, and 3-year-old Ryan Hampel of Independence, seriously injured Hampel's father and caused life-threatening injuries to Raudales' father. Gray suffered only minor injuries in the crash. Court documents say a toxicology report from Gray's blood samples showed a high level of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
According to Kansas City police, a Toyota RAV4 driven by the elder Raudales was waiting at a red light at the northbound I-435 exit ramp to 23rd when it was rear-ended by Gray's black pickup truck. The impact crushed the Toyota's rear and forced it into the intersection, where it struck a Hyundai passenger car driven by the elder Hampel. The Hyundai had been eastbound, and it struck a Ford pickup truck also traveling eastbound and ultimately hit a metal traffic signal pole in the raised median of 23rd Street.
According to court documents, one witness who had been northbound on I-435 and started to exit toward 23rd Street saw Gray's pickup approaching her at about 80 mph, then drive around her on the shoulder and continue down the exit ramp at the same speed, without braking, before hitting the Toyota at the stop light and continuing through the intersection.
Another witness who had been on northbound I-435 said Gray's truck had been swerving shoulder to shoulder in front of him, causing other traffic to stay behind, before suddenly taking the 23rd Street exit. A third witness who had been westbound on 23rd Street and helped get injured people out of the vehicles told police that Gray was “irate and mad” about his truck being damaged and did not seem to have any regard or remorse for others in crash.
Gray said he had been at his son's house in Gardner, Kansas, woke up with 10 seconds left in the Chiefs game and drove home. He said he has post-traumatic stress disorder and takes medication for seizures, but had run out of the medication and was going to get it refilled that day. Gray said he feel like he was having a seizure, but he had woken up after the crash and didn't remember details about it. He said he had not been drinking and had not smoked marijuana that day, but had been upset at all of the traffic and probably should have gone the other way.
Accident investigators determined Gray was driving about 90 mph at the time of the crash – in a 40 mph zone – did not brake at any point and had the vehicle at full throttle.
Prosecutors requested a bond of $75,000.
Hampel's mother, who had also been in the Hyundai, filed a wrongful death suit against Gray in October, seeking a jury trial and unspecified damages. The father, Matthew Hampel, later joined in the suit.