Archive for Thursday, December 1, 2005

Shuttle driver won’t face charges for hitting, killing Army officer

December 1, 2005

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— A Kansas City International Airport shuttle driver who struck and killed an Army officer standing on the shoulder of Interstate 29 will not be charged in the death.

Maj. John Patrick Whyte III, 33, who was stationed at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., died at the scene when he was hit on April 17. Authorities said Whyte had pulled his truck to the side of the road and got out to secure items in the back. He was standing behind the truck when the shuttle van veered off the highway and struck him and his vehicle.

Eric Zahnd, the Platte County prosecutor, said Tuesday that there was no evidence to show that the 56-year-old shuttle driver was criminally negligent or tried intentionally to hit Whyte.

"We took a very careful look at all of the facts and came to the conclusion that nothing of a criminal nature occurred that day," Zahnd said.

He said his decision was based on witness statements, the results of a crash reconstruction, and blood and alcohol tests on the shuttle driver. Zahnd said there was no evidence that the driver was distracted or was using a cell phone at the time and weather was not a factor.

Jennifer Whyte, the officer's widow, agreed with the decision.

"I think we can call it a tragic accident," she said by telephone from Fort Myers, Fla., where she now lives with their two children. "My husband was not a vengeful person, and he would not want to ruin someone else's life over a tragic accident."

Whyte was a West Point graduate who helped capture the Baghdad Airport in Iraq. He had been an Army Ranger, with assignments in North Carolina and Korea before being sent to Fort Benning, Ga., where he was an assistant operations manager and commander of an infantry company.

At Fort Leavenworth, he was a staff officer in the resource management office, working as an analyst in the combined arms center.

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