Kearney family grateful father, 8-year-old son injured in wrong-way crash are alive; woman charged

KEARNEY, Mo. -- A Kearney father and his eight-year-old son are seriously hurt after being hit head-on by a wrong-way driver.

“It was a horrific crash, so we’re just thankful they’re still alive,” Bruce West said of the crash that happened early Sunday on Interstate 35 near Highway 291 in Liberty.

Bruce West knows his family is lucky. A wrong-way driver came around a curve on I-35. With no time to react, the woman hit the car Bruce’s son, Josh West, and Bruce's grandson Nate were in head-on.

Nate and Josh West

“I don’t know if I can say it without crying, but they were having a father-son night. They had been out to eat," he said. "They played video games, and they were on their way back home, so it was kind of late. They had a great time and didn’t make it home at that time without this crash occurring."

Josh West has undergone surgery for internal injuries and still needs more surgery for multiple broken bones in his legs.

Nate West was transferred from Liberty Hospital to Children’s Mercy, where he’s going through several tests to determine what’s next.

The West family believes something extraordinary gets credit for Josh and Nate’s lives being spared.

“It’s by God’s grace,” Bruce West said.

Josh and Nate were also wearing seat belts.

The wrong-way driver is now facing criminal charges. Missouri Highway Patrol troopers said they have charged 20-year-old Madison Mortallaro with driving while intoxicated by drugs after finding marijuana in her vehicle.

“Categorically, if there’s any kind of drug usage, which includes alcohol, a central nervous system depressant, you need to plan ahead. Choose your ride," MSHP Sgt. Collin Stosberg said. "The going rate on a DWI right now is about $10,000. If someone is injured or killed, you’ll be paying for it the rest of your life."

The Wests hope the other driver learns a valuable lesson from what happened. She didn’t have insurance and was driving with expired tags.

That’s why the West family is incredibly grateful for the community’s overwhelming support through prayer and money being raised on two Go Fund Me pages.

“It’s fantastic. We have lots of people that love us and care about us,” Bruce West said.

Josh and Nate West are both looking at months of recovery.

The driver who ran into them is also in the hospital and will head to court on several criminal charges once released.