PLATTE COUNTY, Mo. -- A Kansas City man entered a guilty plea in Platte County Thursday morning, admitting he was responsible for the crash that killed a 64-year-old grandfather as he was helping his grandson with his disabled car on the side of 152-Highway near I-435, on February 10, 2014.
Prosecutors say Battaglia was driving at more than 80 miles per hour in a 55 zone. Tests show Battaglia had several substances in his blood, including amphetamine, when he hit Rippy and his grandson Parker Elgin, 17, as they sat inside Parker's overheated car on the shoulder of 152 Highway near I-435 at about 10:15 p.m. that February night. Blood tests did not indicate Battaglia had ethanol in his blood. At the time of the crash, Battaglia was driving on a suspended license in relation to an active case from October 2013.
Rippy, Parker and Battaglia were taken to the hospital, where Rippy died about an hour later.
"Even though the drugs in this defendant’s system are legal when prescribed, it’s still illegal to drive when impaired by them. Sadly, a beloved husband, father, and grandfather is dead because of the defendant’s irresponsible actions,” said Eric Zahnd, Platte County Prosecuting Attorney.
After the crash, Battaglia agreed to a breathalyzer test, but denied a request for a blood sample, saying he was afraid of needles. A court order was issued and Battaglia's blood was drawn on Feb. 11, the day after the crash.
In addition to the amphetamine, the blood test showed he also had alprazolam, carisoprodol, hydroxybuproprion, and meprobamate in his system. All of those substances are contained in legal prescription medications, but Battaglia did not have a prescription for alprazolam, commonly known as Xanax.
"I want justice for my husband, that's all I want," said Carol Rippy, the victim's wife. "It's just totally destroyed my world. Nothing is the same. Nothing. We were together since I was 13 and he was 14 and he's been in my life ever since I was 13. I don't know what to do without him."
Zahnd said he would recommend Battaglia serve 10 years of prison time. Sentencing is set for June 11.
"It's appropriate that this man serve time in prison for his crimes," Zahnd said. “Even though the defendant did not intend on killing anyone, the fact remains that Mr. Rippy was tragically taken from his family because the defendant chose to drive well over the speed limit while under the influence of a cocktail of prescription drugs.”