The Fox4KC headline only hints at a larger story, “Truck strikes, kills 55-year-old KC woman attempting to cross 71-Highway in wheelchair.”
For the reader, the first clue is “71-Highway.” Few good things happen on this urban stretch of divided highway that cynics have labeled “Felony Freeway.”
The short synopsis that follows adds other details that cry out for further explanation. The accident happened just before midnight at the intersection of 71-Highway and Gregory Boulevard. One wonders how it is that this woman found herself alone, at midnight, in a wheelchair, crossing a road that was designed, rightly or wrongly, to accommodate the neighborhood and facilitate pedestrian traffic.
The reporter adds another poignant clue, one that makes the story only sadder: “A witness described seeing scattered beer cans around the scene, which may have come from the pedestrian.”
The next detail distinguishes the accident from many others that take place on that troubled stretch of highway. The driver, a woman in a pick-up, stopped and called 911. Reports Fox4, “She told them it was very dark along 71-Highway, and she did not see the person she hit.”
There was a reason the roadway was dark, and it reinforces the highway’s sorry reputation: “The portion of the highway where the crash happened is blacked out due to thieves taking copper and wires from the street lights.”
There are three stories that could be told here really. One involves the apparently distressed life of the woman who was killed. What twist of fate put her in a wheelchair and what further twist left her alone and possibly inebriated on a dangerous stretch of highway?
Then there is the story of the neighborhood and the kind of roadway its leaders demanded and the kind of dysfunction that has sabotaged the highway that was built.
And then there is the third story, that of the driver, whose life will be forever haunted by an accident that never had to happen, but that is the risk one runs on 71-Highway.