Archive for Friday, February 10, 2006

D.A. won’t file charges in 6-year-old’s traffic death

February 10, 2006


It was just an accident.

That's the finding Douglas County Dist. Atty. Charles Branson's office made after reviewing reports from the death of 6-year-old Bryce Olsen, who was struck and killed by a minivan last week in the Prairie Park neighborhood. Branson said Thursday he would not seek any criminal charges against the minivan's driver, 45-year-old Peter Matthias Kwesi Afful, of Lawrence, in part because shrubbery obstructed Afful's view of the intersection.

"A full case review was completed by me and seven attorneys in my office and the unanimous decision was made to decline charges," Branson said in a statement.

Bryce's father, Bret Olsen, had mixed reactions to the news. He said he still didn't understand how Afful couldn't have seen his son cross the street, but he questioned whether Afful deserved to go to jail.

"I have to forgive the man and carry on with my life : and try to make the community aware of what's happened," Olsen said. He said prosecutors "are doing their job, and I guess they do it to the best of their ability. It's not going to bring Bryce back."

Stuffed animals and other toys adorn a roadside memorial for Bryce Olsen at the corner of East 25th Terrace and Harper Street. Bryce, 6, died last week at the intersection when he was struck by a minivan, but no criminal charges will be filed against the driver.

Stuffed animals and other toys adorn a roadside memorial for Bryce Olsen at the corner of East 25th Terrace and Harper Street. Bryce, 6, died last week at the intersection when he was struck by a minivan, but no criminal charges will be filed against the driver.

The wreck happened Jan. 30 as Bryce, a kindergartner at Prairie Park School, rode his scooter across Harper Street at the intersection of East 25th Terrace. Afful had stopped at the stop sign on southbound Harper and was making a right turn onto East 25th Terrace when he struck Bryce.

Branson called the wreck a "tragic accident" but said it didn't meet the criteria required for vehicular homicide. That crime is defined as killing someone while driving in a way that "creates an unreasonable risk of injury to the person or property of another and which constitutes a material deviation from the standard of care which a reasonable person would observe under the same circumstances."

In his statement, Branson said: "Under the facts of this case, the driver's view was obstructed by shrubbery on the side of the road, it appears that the driver stopped at the stop sign and waited for traffic to clear before he proceeded forward, and there is doubt as to whether or not the child stopped before entering the roadway while riding a scooter."

Branson said he would refer the case back to police to ticket Afful for driving without proof of insurance.

Branson reminded drivers to be cautious in neighborhoods where children live. He also reminded parents to review their children's routes to school and practice them with their children to make sure they're cautious.


neopolss 12 years, 2 months ago

Usually I'm the first one to make a wisecrack, but that's simply uncalled for.

babyboycat 12 years, 2 months ago

porkribs, I agree with you 100%. That little boy was too young to be out crossing a busy street alone. Why weren't his parents with him? What a tragic lesson for the parents. I wouldn't have ever let my children out unsupervised at that age.

RonBurgandy 12 years, 2 months ago

A bit far? It's idiotic.

TOB: You would probably have to go back to the previous posts that attacked him and then throw them back in the posters face before they would even admit they said something like that. But that is a lot of work to prove a point.

joshs_mom 12 years, 2 months ago

I agree a child that age should not be outside without some supervision. My son is 7 and he is not allowed to go out alone. Either myself or my husband are out with him. But I do have some sympathy for Bryce's parents. They learned the hard way what can happen. We live in a semi-rural area, and although the speed limit in the small neighborhood we live in is 30mph I see traffic go by our house faster than that. One evening last week I was watching the street for about 15 minutes after I saw a car roll thru the stop sign 2 houses down from us. In that 15 minutes I saw 2 more cars do that, and this was at dusk, near 6 pm when visibility is poor. I was very surprised and worried to see this.

craigers 12 years, 2 months ago

I am glad the father is taking this the right way and trying to forgive and move forward. His family will need his strength to get through.

RonBurgandy 12 years, 2 months ago

Last I checked, no one on this board was there when the accident occured, so no one here knows anymore that what this article says, including whether the driver was paying attention or not.

I love when we are all detectives and know the exact reasoning behind everything that transpires. There is a reason the driver was not charged, there is also a reason why the parents aren't being charged with anything as well.

chzypoof1 12 years, 2 months ago

For all of you that keep blaming the parents...STOP. The mother was sitting across the street watching the whole thing!!! (according to the first article)....Please have a little compassion for a family that just lost a child.

For mom_of_three, I drive that corner every day too. Those shrubs block your view bad! I almost get hit every day. If you were to take that corner at normal speed AFTER stopping, you might still miss a tiny child riding out in front of you.

mom_of_three 12 years, 2 months ago

My point is - if the shrubs are so bad, WHY ARE THEY STILL THERE???

mom_of_three 12 years, 2 months ago

I have more problems with the vehicles parked on 25th terrace blocking my view than I do with the shrubs.

mom_of_three 12 years, 2 months ago

chzypoof1 -

I have always been careful at that intersection (for over 14 years) and more so since the accident - But I don't think I would miss a child riding in the area......

RonBurgandy 12 years, 2 months ago

The sad part is that people actually agreed with that post.

RonBurgandy 12 years, 2 months ago

"I think if you leave out (or censor) a key component from the discussion then you are robbing the community of very valuable information and lessons."

Nobody is learning anything from "I think the parents should be charged."

justthefacts 12 years, 2 months ago

As a child years ago, in another Kansas city, I took part in a 4-H program to report intersections where the view was obstructed by trees or bushes, in violation of a city code, so city crews (or the property owner) could take care of the problem.

It boggles the mind to think that Lawrence does not have such a code regarding plants or other objects that encroach upon the public easments and/or negatively impact a driver's sight lines.

Has anyone contacted the city to see if there is such a code?

Rossp 12 years, 2 months ago

porkribs-I don't think ljworld sits at reads these comments, it's the others who post on here that are suggesting removal of them and it automatically removes them.

badger 12 years, 2 months ago

Well, who owns those shrubs?

Are they owned by the city? Then they should be cut back immediately. Call the department of public works until it happens. If they're owned by a private person, then I'm sure there are processes the city can take, but it may take longer. Call the department of public works to find out what you can do.

Barring legal remedies, a midnight visit with a set of hedge trimmers might work to better effect, if one were inclined towards direct action.

bankboy119 12 years, 2 months ago

jtf, no but they do have a policy to not have balloons because of their distractions. Oh and you can't hang anything on telephone poles or put up signs because it's "trashy."

outoftowner 12 years, 2 months ago

I'm glad no one has been charged with anything in this accident. Everyone involved will be living with it the rest of their lives, and that to me is "punishment" enough. I think if I lived closer, or drove that route every day, I'd cut the shrubs down myself. Whats the most you could get charged with?

fosso 12 years, 2 months ago

I used to live in that neighborhood. That intersection has a HORRIBLE blind spot with the shrubs. I've wanted to cut them down for years because several near miss accidents.

Jamesaust 12 years, 2 months ago

I would have been concerned if the driver had been charged absent any further evidence of wrongdoing. Inattentiveness is, quite unfortunately, an inescapable part of operating a motor vehicle. No one can be fully at alert each moment. This is not however to imply drivers need not pay attention.

Criminalizing inattentiveness would turn driving into a crapshoot - one can never control when a child (or other) steps out into the road at a moment of inattention.

Hong_Kong_Phooey 12 years, 2 months ago

Porkribs: As you can see, the thought police at the Journal-World are hard at work. Heaven forbid somebody say something that isn't coated in sugar and dripping with niceties. You might offend some of the precious liberal minds on here.

mom_of_three 12 years, 2 months ago

The shrubs mentioned are in the background of the picture. They are more of a hindrance in the summer time, but I have a harder time seeing around the vehicles parked on 25th street terrace, when I stop and look east. There are cars at times parked when I look west (the picture is facing west), but it is not nearly as bad.

RonBurgandy 12 years, 2 months ago

I love how anyone who is ever offended is a "liberal". Makes perfect sense.

editor 12 years, 2 months ago


It is not the case that comments are removed automatically following a user's clicking "Suggest Removal."

Site editors do indeed review comments and remove comments. Nothing happens automatically.

The "Suggest Removal" feature allows the online community to assist in maintaining standards of decorum and civility.

Centrist 12 years, 2 months ago

Well, you know, 'liberal-bashing' is the number 1 national sport these days. Sure it's fun, but imagine the fascist regime we would be living in without liberals actually questioning everything.

While you bash liberals and blame them for everything, just remember there are complete idiots on the Right as well ...

So there! ~P

Jamesaust 12 years, 2 months ago

I should also add that nothing prevents the family from recovering from the driver for the financial consequences of his inattentiveness. While there appears to have been issues with possessing proof of insurance at the time, the driver is insured.

The standard of proof of negligence is much lower in a non-criminal trial. No doubt there are various expenses for the family, which apparently was struggling already with finances. (There may also be a community contribution, I cannot remember.)

bankboy119 12 years, 2 months ago

Ah but Ron it does, sadly, it does. If I, as a white male Christian, get offended, I get told to shove it. If I was a Asian-African-Mexican-Irish homosexual transgendered Muslim then if somebody said they didn't agree that my lifestyle was acceptable then I could sue for hate speech because my feelings were hurt. And by the way, I would vote liberal.

Centrist 12 years, 2 months ago

Stand up for 30-something year old white males! We are the most maligned of all now ....

RonBurgandy 12 years, 2 months ago

So, you are saying then bankboy that you never are offended, b/c, my quote was: "I love how anyone who is ever offended is a "liberal". Makes perfect sense." But since you say it does and you are not a liberal, well then, you don't get offended. If you never are offended, then you never have to worry about being told to shove it, and don't have any reason to sue.

Oh, not that it matters, but I am a white, male Christian as well.

craigers 12 years, 2 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

bankboy119 12 years, 2 months ago

Touche Burgandy. I do get offended but, alas, I am not liberal. I think the point that HKP was trying to make was that the people who are being offended are those who believe in no abolute right and wrong and don't want to take responsibility for anything that they do. Porky must've said something about parents taking responsibility and that was removed. It was his opinion. If the topic was about the church and someone had said "Anyone who believes in God is stupid." Or something to that effect, it would be completely tolerated. Well, I believe in God and they just called me stupid, that is offensive (it also shows their ignorance but that's another discussion.) I don't whine and cry about it though. If I had spoken up that what they said was offensive then I'm sure there would have been 5-10 people who told me to get over it. Again, take homosexuality for example. I don't agree with it and I've stated that before, and some of my posts have been removed. That was because some "liberal" was offended and cried about it. Note that I never said I think being a homosexual makes you a 2nd class citizen, I compared it with being an alcoholic.

mom_of_three 12 years, 2 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Jamesaust 12 years, 2 months ago

LOL I come back to my computer to log off and find this quote at the bottom of the page: "Note that I never said I think being a homosexual makes you a 2nd class citizen, I compared it with being an alcoholic." {no idea how that is a response to this story.}

I appreciate the nuance of the position. It certainly is more appreciative of gray-area than Phelps.

Personally, in the analogy game, I believe that the better match for 'being like an alcoholic' is 'being like a bigot' - both capable of treatment and the hope of cure but still objective psychological disorders with physiological coefficients.

A more apt match for "being homosexual" would be "being left-handed" - perhaps sinister (!) to some for ideological/religious reasons but not a psychological disorder and therefore at best subject to repression but never "cure."

bankboy119 12 years, 2 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

craigers 12 years, 2 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

bankboy119 12 years, 2 months ago

hahaha see I told you my post would be removed. Where is the tolerance there?

Jamesaust, actually studies have been done to show that it is a psychological state and not a genetic disorder as some people have said. Because it happens as early as 7,8,9 people have made the mistake of saying it is genetic.

bankboy119 12 years, 2 months ago

By the way Ron, I would say my point was proven. I wonder if it would have been the same for a Danish-Norweigan-Canadian-French-English-Indian lefthanded 1/2 Taoist 1/4 Confucian 1/4 Voodoo drunken eunuch pygmie.

Hong_Kong_Phooey 12 years, 2 months ago

Editor: it's great to know that you and your fellow reporters support the right to free-speech, as long as it doesn't offend anyone...

If people think that something is offensive they have the right to not read it. They can skip down to the next posting. They can reply with reasons why they think it's offensive if they so choose. That is the point of a DISCUSSION board! Everyone running around throwing niceties at each other does nothing.

RonBurgandy 12 years, 2 months ago

Don't be offended there HKP, someone might think you are a liberal...

RonBurgandy 12 years, 2 months ago

Bankboy, I can't really speak for the other topics (I would be offended by the believing in God makes you stupid comment you mentioned) but when it comes to this topic, posts have been removed right and left and there is just not much wiggle room here. This is not just an open thread where anyone can say anything they want. It is up to the scrutiny of the posters and the ljw staff, which you know already and I don't really know why I am saying it to you. I think where I am going is that I know conservatives that get offended when it comes to Christianity too, doesn't always have to be a liberal.

mom_of_three 12 years, 2 months ago

and some comments are so offensive, that they don't even need to be posted...

badger 12 years, 2 months ago

Well, given that the First Amendment addresses the ability of government to censor public speech, and says nothing about the rights of individuals to speak freely on what is essentially private property (this is after all LJW's space; they fund and maintain it), perhaps some of y'all screaming about censorship could unbunch your knickers a tad.

Does the LJW have posted rules about its standard for decorum and civility, or (like pornography, art, obscenity, and racism according to other entities) will they know it when they see it? Or do they just wait for someone to complain and then look to see if the poster is out of line?

Even if one does concede that we have the right to expect to be allowed free speech here (which I think, myself, we're usually mature enough to handle), that doesn't mean that standards can't be set. I notice that some posts that suggest a certain degree of parent accountability remain as of this moment, and have remained throughout discussion of this issue. That tells me that it's more likely to have been how PorkRibs said something than the content of what he said. He is given to being somewhat of an abrasive person.

I've had posts deleted. I think most posters have. What I would like, though, is if there were someone we could ask (for example, can we contact the person known as 'editor' through the site?) why a post was deleted, what the content was that determined the removal. That way, if it's a matter of inflammatory language, points can be made without it and remain up. If it's a matter of content, then I think that shortly, good posters with a lot to say will leave and go somewhere they won't be censored, and the board will languish in a fury of politically correct inoffensive fluffy niceness before it eventually goes under entirely.

RonBurgandy 12 years, 2 months ago

As TOB said earlier "If I had to guess, Pork Ribs, it would be the lack of tact you exhibited in that first post."

That is exactly why some posts remain up about parental responsibility and other don't.

RonBurgandy 12 years, 2 months ago

All everyone complaining about removal of posts just need to read this exerpt out of THE RULES provided by the ljworld and reminded by TOB:

"We want to encourage an open exchange of information and ideas. But, if you use inappropriate language or make potentially slanderous or libelous comments when using these forums, we reserve the right (but assume no obligation) to remove your contributions. And if you become a problem for us or our site's other users we can and will ban you from using this free public service."

RonBurgandy 12 years, 2 months ago

All everyone? That makes sense, please disregard the All part.

Thanks, RonBurgandy.

mom_of_three 12 years, 2 months ago

And it starts out in the first paragraph with "good manners"

This was my favorite paragraph:

Responsibility for what is posted or contributed to this site lies with each user. Each user alone is responsible for the material you post. By contributing to this Web site, you agree not to post any defamatory, abusive, harassing, obscene, sexual, threatening or illegal material, or any other material that infringes on the ability of others to enjoy this site, or that infringes on the rights of others.

Hong_Kong_Phooey 12 years, 2 months ago

Mom_of_three: what you consider to fall under that category probably differs completely from what I would throw in there. Just because YOU don't like it, it doesn't make it "defamatory, abusive, harassing, obscene, sexual, threatening or illegal material, or any other material that infringes on the ability of others to enjoy this site, or that infringes on the rights of others."

Usually these messages are deleted b/c thin-skinned individuals hit the "suggest removal" button. This draws the attention of the site editor who constantly feels the need to remove the comments. You can say what you want to me, but I will not hit the "suggest removal" button. I'm a little more mature than that.

RonBurgandy 12 years, 2 months ago

Way to go tell that suggest removal button who's boss.

mom_of_three 12 years, 2 months ago


Yes, definitely, - what you and I consider to be abusive, obscene, and harrassing is definitely different.

I do not consider myself to be thin-skinned. I consider myself to think as an individual and as an adult. I may suggest removal, but evidently, others agree with me as posts are removed.
I haven't suggested removal of any today. Others have beaten me to it.

dlhj 12 years, 2 months ago

You can contact LJW and ask why your post was deleted; a friend of mind did this when he was 'outraged' over his post being deleted, and he did receive a response from someone that very politely explained why they felt the need to remove his post. (i have to say, after he told me what he posted, I felt they did the right thing; it was a potentially slanderous comment.) So if you feel like you've been wrongly deleted, contact them and ask. I don't think that people are necessarily thin-skinned; just that everyone takes comments differently and LJW is just trying to maintain a site that everyone can enjoy. Of course you can't please everybody, and we all know that it's difficult to get the true context of someone's thought when it's being typed instead of actually being heard. I've inadvertently offended people by something I typed in an email, just because they took it out of context. It wasn't anyone's fault, it's just a product of today's electronic society.

mom_of_three 12 years, 2 months ago

"Bryce's father, Bret Olsen, had mixed reactions to the news. He said he still didn't understand how Afful couldn't have seen his son cross the street, but he....."

I don't see how he couldn't see him cross the street either. He had to watch for traffic to cross, and for that, you have to look past the shrubbery, and the parked cars because a car didn't hit Afful.

It was an horrific accident, but it sounds, to me, like the city is making excuses for the driver. I have driven that intersection for 14 years, and haven't nearly the problems of the Afful or a few others here. It is a bad intersection, but it can't be too bad if there haven't been any other wrecks or accidents at that intersection.

badger 12 years, 2 months ago

I've hit 'Suggest Removal' a few times, but I try to stick to situations where it's seriously abusive or libelous. My rationale is that LJW, because it maintains this space, might be hit as part of a libel suit even though they say up front that they take a 'hands off' approach. I figure that if they're going to have libel on the board, it should be something they know they're doing.

By the way, they don't remove every suggested post. I hit it for something I thought was pretty dodgy on being libelous, and it stayed. I figured the LJW either had other info on the individual discussed, or read the statement differently, and I didn't worry about it.

I don't hit 'Suggest Removal' just because something offends me. I'm pretty hard to offend, actually. You really have to be trying, and there's only one group you can attack to be sure of getting my dander up.

Besides, usually if I look at something and think, "Well, that's just low-class and trashy," it's gone by the next time I see it anyway.

TOB - thanks for posting the rules. They're handy to know. I read them at the time, but I belong to a number of message boards with rules that vary from, "No one here is Nanny Niceykins. If you can't verbally defend yourself from a moron with a keyboard, get yourself a LiveJournal instead," to strict rules about grammar, etiquette, and civility. I couldn't remember which end of the spectrum the LJ fell at.

And my request for someone to ask is mainly because I have said things I felt pushed the definition of 'civility' pretty hard and had them stand, but had posts that weren't at all rude or abusive removed. I'd like to know what about those posts was inappropriate so I can avoid doing it again. If I'm not allowed to say the word "(inappropriate content removed by the censors and replaced with banana creme pie)", then I won't use it if I have something I actually want people to be able to read.

RonBurgandy 12 years, 2 months ago

So money will solve all this family's problems?

Jamesaust 12 years, 2 months ago

"Jamesaust, actually studies have been done to show that it is a psychological state."

I'm not at all sure what a "psychological state" is supposed to be. There are, however, no studies indicating homosexuality as a psychological disorder. That was a matter put to bed finally over 30 years ago. If one has contrary evidence, the American Psychological Association would like to hear from you.

Indeed, whatever this undercurrent of psychological/genetic business is, I would put forward that it is not a "disorder" at all, nor more than being left-handed or red-haired.

If one wishes for ideological or religious reasons to believe homosexuality is akin to alcoholism, one is free to do so as it is a (quasi)free country. It is a very peculiar comment to make with regard to this article.

Regardless of one's reasons for belief, it would seem clear that it certainly is less of a choice than say choosing to be a Methodist. But, the choice of Methodism gains a far greater degree of societal and legal cover, even though I find it to be the rare Methodist who, push come to shove, would have a fundamental objection to choosing to become a Luthern or Baptist, etc., instead. I'm not sure who these 'team changing' homosexuals are supposed to be however.

Steve Jacob 12 years, 2 months ago

I hope it's over, court wise. If the parent's sue, and goes to court, you KNOW the driver's lawyer will try to blame the parents. That's what lawyers do :)

beatrice 12 years, 2 months ago

"My point is - if the shrubs are so bad, WHY ARE THEY STILL THERE???"

I absolutely agree! What we need is more trees, and less Bush.

beatrice 12 years, 2 months ago

bankboy: "Again, take homosexuality for example. I don't agree with it..." Okay. So then don't take another Christian white male as your sex partner. There, problem solved. (Or is it a dilema?)

Personally, I don't agree with American Idol -- so guess what, I don't watch it. However, I don't think there should be laws preventing people from watching it if they want, and I don't think people are alcoholics who watch it (though it probably helps). I also don't think it is a sin, but I bet I could find something in a book written a long time ago that would back me if I did want to deem it a sin against humanity. I also don't think it being on television diminishes the importance of good shows, like the Sopranos. But that is me. Let each live their own. I don't let the private actions of others disturb me too much, especially if I know it makes them happy. I mean, there are even some who claim to have been born liking that type of "entertainment."

Of course, if I were a closeted American Idol fan I would probably find a reason to regularly bring it into conversation, so I could stand on a soap box and proclaim just how "terrible" it is, and that it isn't the type of music a woman and a man are meant to listen to, and such. Who knows, I might even want Congress to pass laws that make watching it in any of the 50 states illegal. Plus, people who live with people who watch American Idol shouldn't have shared medical insurance. That just makes sense. And we all know the world would be a better place if some higher power just came down and wiped all American Idol fans off the face of the planet, in part because we know some adults have children watch it with them, recruting them at an early age.

But, of course, I'm not a closeted Idol fan, and going to that extreme seems a bit much. So I just agree not to participate in it myself, and all is well with the world.

Just as long as I don't have to see someone buying a Clay Akin cd in public. We don't want to go too far now.

Hong_Kong_Phooey 12 years, 2 months ago

Has the thought that the mini-van and Bryce were going the same way occurred to anyone? It would seem that everybody thinks that Bryce was crossing from left to right in front of Mr. Afful. If Afful was driving he may have been looking to the left when he passed Bryce, didn't see him, and then when he got to the stop sign he looked left and right but didn't check his right side mirror. He took off as Bryce went to shoot across the street and smack.

If you all try and tell me that you check your side mirrors at every stop sign then you are flat out lying.

cms 12 years, 2 months ago

My gosh people, let it go. QUIT blaming the poor parents and the driver. This was an extremely unfortunate accident. Tragic. Find something productive to do rather than bash the parents and driver. Why must someone always be to blame and why does money always have to be brought up?

nowandthen 12 years, 2 months ago

(referring to the last sentence by cms...)

Money is always an object in today's society. It's always involved one way or another. Someone is always to blame because there is always someone in the wrong whether people want to admit it or not.

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