14-year-old driver injures woman in head-on crash

TONGANOXIE, Kan. — A Tonganoxie, Kan., woman is fighting for her life after she was the victim of a head-on crash Wednesday night.

Sarah Kay Henricks, 35, is listed in serious condition at a Kansas City area hospital. Kansas Highway Patrol troopers say a 14-year-old boy is to blame for the accident. It happened around 5:45 p.m. Troopers say the 14-year-old drove across the center line on Highway 24 just north of 222nd street, about a mile south of Tonganoxie.

The teenager was driving with a “Farmer’s Permit,” which unlike permits for most teens, allows him to drive without an adult in the car.

“That’s where the loophole exists,” said Bill Kennedy.

Kennedy has taught Driver’s Ed for more than 30 years at the Drive Right School in Topeka. He’s not a fan of the Kansas law that allows 14 and 15 year old kids who live or work on a farm to obtain a driver’s permit that’s far less restrictive than what most teens apply for.

“My personal view is, no,” he said. “They need to have an adult sitting beside them in the passenger seat who’s had a license for a number of years.”

FOX 4 stopped by the home of the 14-year-old, who was released from the hospital Wednesday night. His family didn’t want to talk, but it does appear he lives on a farm of at least 20 acres to qualify for the “Farmer’s Permit.”

Kansas law mandates teens who use a “Farmer’s Permit” must limit their driving to school or farm-related activities. The 14-year-old in Wednesday’s crash told troopers he was heading to a lumber yard. That could qualify as farm activity, but Kenney says it shouldn’t matter if the teen’s story is true. He believes 14-year old drivers are too young to get behind the wheel by themselves.

“A parent allows for a lot more instruction, safer situation,” he said.

Kennedy says kids who get a “Farmer’s Permit” don’t have to have any hours of practice.

“Just pass the vision test, written test and driving test,” he said.

Kansas Troopers tell FOX 4 they’re investigating whether the 14-year-old in this case had a valid reason to be on the road.

Email: rob.low@wdaftv4.com
Twitter: @roblowtv