Family spared in crash that killed Johnson County deputy reacts to drunk driver’s guilty plea

OLATHE, Kan. -- “Right now, I could not be here, anyone else, my family… yeah, I feel lucky,” Ricardo Lopez said.

The family who survived a crash caused by a drunk driver says they’re thankful to be alive, and thankful the driver pleaded guilty on Thursday.

The man who drove drunk and caused a crash that killed a Johnson County deputy pleaded guilty to murder. Adrian Espinosa-Flores pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

Court documents say Espinosa-Flores' blood-alcohol content was twice the legal limit when he slammed into Master Deputy Brandon Collins' patrol car, killing him, and injuring another family.

Espinosa-flores initially was charged with DUI involuntary manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident.

“My little brother was here with us, but he stayed at my cousin’s house that day, and it was weird for me and my mom, because we never stay with them, and he would have gotten hit, because he always sits in the back, so we’re very thankful he was staying at her house,” said a tearful Ruby Lopez.

It’s still emotional to discuss the night of September 11th, 2016.

The affidavit says that when officers arrived to the crash scene at about 1:40 a.m., there were flames shooting 30-feet into the air, and it appeared the driver of a Ford F-250 had pushed Deputy Collins' patrol unit into an SUV he had pulled over.

“The cop’s car exploded, it was on fire,” added Ricardo.

Four members of the Lopez family were in the car in front — each one of them was injured. They took video footage of the fiery aftermath.

“It was so bad, I didn’t go to school for like a week, two weeks, because it was so hard, even in my bed getting up, when you layed down, even moving it hurt,” Ruby said.

More officers arrived to the crash scene to look for the driver of the Ford truck who had run away. Using a helicopter, canine units, and information from a nearby homeowner, officers eventually found Espinosa-Flores near an overpass at 69 Highway and W. 139th Street.

“Anyone has to be punished, I mean you can’t get away with murder and injuring other people, he deserves some time,” Ricardo added.

Investigators performed field sobriety tests, which Espinosa-Flores failed, and a preliminary breath test revealed his BAC was .160.

“I feel really sad for the cop’s family, I hope they’re feeling better now, I don’t know if they are, but maybe they are just a little bit, but yeah, something like that should never have happened,” Ricardo said.

“I would like to meet his family, and talk to them and tell them how strong they are for doing this right now, and I’m sorry for what’s happened, I just can’t imagine how it would feel right now for them,” said Ruby.

Espinosa-Flores told investigators that he in the U.S. illegally. He faces possible deportation following the outcome of this case, and will be sentenced in January.