KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Thirty-three deaths so far this year on Kansas City, Mo. roads. And behind each one of those deaths is a family.
Almost a month ago, in mid-April, Tyrone Day was at a bus stop when he stepped into traffic, and an SUV hit him near 73rd and Prospect. On Sunday, April 30, he died. His family buried him on Monday, May 8.
“He had a big, beautiful smile,” said his mother, Falenthia Day.
Falenthia Day spent Monday at the cemetery, burying her son who was always smiling, and who was always up for a morning cup of coffee.
“I’m going to miss that,” she said. “I’m going to miss seeing him in the morning.”
So far in 2017, there are 32 other families just like the Day family, missing someone killed on Kansas City, Mo. roads. The city is on track to more than double its fatal car crashes from previous years.
“We are significantly higher than last year,” said Kari Thompson with the Kansas City Police Department. “And it’s awful.”
To date in 2017, police say 33 people were killed on KCMO roads. This time of 2016, it was 18 deaths. In 2015, it was even fewer: 16. In both 2016 and 2015, there were 68 deaths on Kansas City roads.
Kansas City traffic investigators attribute the increased accidents to several things, including the mild weather. Because there were fewer winter weather events and more mild days, more drivers were on the road. Specifically, said one detective, there were more motorcycles because of the mild weather; and those crash, the drivers is much more likely to have severe injuries.
Falenthia Day, who buried her son under a sunny sky, pleaded with metro drivers that afternoon. “Pay attention,” she asked. “Know what you are doing. I hope you aren’t on your phone. Just pay attention.”
And pay attention to the smiling faces on that road too.
Tyrone Day died near 73rd and Prospect. The police will soon send their case over to the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office, which will decide if there is enough evidence to present charges against the driver of the SUV.
Roughly half a block away from where he was hit sits a tree. In January of 2017, two high school students – Zachary Myer and Kaeden Hernandez – died when their vehicle hit that tree. That case is still open as investigators await lab results.
Kansas City police say car crashes happen across the city every day. For some, they can be life-altering.