No Charges in Fatal Crash Involving Airport Shuttle

John Patrick Whyte III, a U.S. Army major stationed at Fort Leavenworth, died April 17 when he was struck by a KCI airport shuttle van along northbound I-29 near Tiffany Springs Parkway.


The Platte County prosecutor said Tuesday that he would not file charges against an airport shuttle driver who fatally struck a man standing on the shoulder of Interstate 29.

John Patrick Whyte III, a U.S. Army major stationed at Fort Leavenworth, died April 17 when he was struck by a KCI airport shuttle van along northbound I-29 near Tiffany Springs Parkway.

The 33-year-old West Point graduate died at the scene.

Whyte had been working as a staff officer at the resource management office at Fort Leavenworth when the accident occurred.

Prosecutor Eric Zahnd said Tuesday that there was not sufficient evidence to prove the 56-year-old shuttle driver was criminally negligent or intentionally tried to run over Whyte, who helped capture Baghdad Airport at the beginning of the Iraq war.

Jennifer Whyte, the victim?s widow, agreed with Zahnd's decision.

"I think we can call it a tragic accident," said Whyte, who now lives in Fort Myers, Fla., 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.

"There is really nothing we can do, and I am not going to push this any further," she said in a phone interview Tuesday.

Zahnd said: "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 the decision not to pursue criminal charges against the driver was based on witness statements, the results of a reconstruction of the crash done by the Missouri Highway Patrol, and the results of blood and alcohol tests from the shuttle driver.

There was no evidence that the driver was distracted or was using a cell phone at the time, he said, and the weather was not a factor.

According to authorities, John Whyte had pulled to the side of the road to secure some items in the back of his truck.

He was standing at the rear of his vehicle when the shuttle van veered off and slammed into him and his vehicle.

The shuttle driver suffered minor injuries and refused treatment at the scene. His passenger, Donald Bing of Shawnee, was treated at North Kansas City Hospital for chest pains.

The driver, who had worked for KCI Shuttle for more than 15 years, was not cited.

Whyte worked as an analyst in the combined arms center for programming and budgeting at Fort Leavenworth.

After graduating from West Point, Whyte became an airborne Ranger. He had assignments at Fort Bragg, N.C., and Camp Casey in Korea.

He was later assigned to Fort Benning, Ga., where he was an assistant operations manager and an infantry company commander.

Kansas City Star


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