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

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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


  • AJ Brown

    This is a really weak article. How was the third car involved? No mention of that, other than “All three drivers” were wearing their seatbelts. Did the boy have the legally required adult with him?

    Also, the info on the KS driving law is incomplete and incorrect. The minimum age for a learner’s permit is 14, but the law does not require “a driver age 14-16” to have a licensed driver over age 21, unless they are on a learner’s permit. Drivers can move to a restricted license beginning at age 15. Addtionally, the article mixes and matches the requirements for a permit vs. a restricted license. A written test is required for a permit. You can’t take the driver education course until you have the permit; it has no bearing on the permit eligibility, just on the restricted license. Perhaps you could consult the actual state statute that addresses this, rather than a private business’ website.

  • Jean Thomas

    Bad, bad report. Who was the 3rd car driven by? Was he/she injured. According to this the one woman was the only injury. The 14-year-old was also hospitalized surely. What’s his condition and where is he. Was he on his way home from an after school activity? Was he on his way home from a job? This reporter has not done his/her fact finding at all. This is an embarrassment for Fox 4 reporting.

  • Laura

    Very one sided argument against teens. I know this family. Very good kid and he had a valid farmers permit so he made a tragic mistake but nothing illegal. This article lacks facts & shows no concern for the young man or the other driver. Praying for all involved.

  • Tony

    Any update on condition of lady injuried ? NO reason for a 14 year old to be behind the wheel of a car !! If they are found at fault, they should not be able to drive till 21.

  • Joe

    OK. You tell us what the law is but you never mentioned if the kid had a permit or if someone was riding with him that was 21 or older. Don’t you people think about these things or are you too lazy to dig a little deeper and get the full story? These stories are sometimes or more, lame to the max!

  • Joe

    Nobody at Fox wants to take responsibility for this story so the author is listed as the Fox 4 Newsroom. Are we supposed to believe that more than one person was involved in writing this mess? My question to Fox is, “Have either of them finished high school yet?”

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