Hit & Run Driver Caught, No Charges Yet

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SHAWNEE, Kan. — A Shawnee woman is in critical condition at a metro hospital after she was hit by a wrong-way driver who never stopped.

Friends of 43-year old Lee Helfrich told FOX 4 she was walking her dog on Midland Drive just west of  I-435 when she was hit from behind by a driver going eastbound in the westbound lane.

“It’s hard to fathom that you cannot tell you have a hole in your windshield the size, over the size of a basketball,” said Tom Van Pelt a family friend of Helfrich’s.

Van Pelt’s wife found Helfrich lying in the grass, barely conscious.

“By the grace of God it was 40 minutes after she had been laying there,” added Van Pelt.

Van Pelt says he later learned the suspected driver went to church that morning and drove home past the accident scene while police were still investigating.

A neighbor who noticed the driver’s shattered windshield alerted police.

Van Pelt says he learned from police that the suspected driver, believed to be about 40-years old, has the mental capacity of someone much younger.

“The mentality of a six year old, so I’m not so sure if that’s what we do now is these days is allow 6-year olds to have a driver’s license,” said Van Pelt.

Tom says he’s worried that the driver may not be charged with a crime because of his diminished mental capacity even though Lee Helfrich lies in the Intensive Care Unit with two broken legs, a broken neck, a broken nose and numerous other injuries.

“Well if I gave a 6-year old a driver’s license and the responsibility to drive on the city streets of this country I would charge a 6-year old with the same types of a crime,”  said Van Pelt.

FOX 4 was not able to reach Shawnee police because of the New Year’s Day holiday, but their press release states that drugs and alcohol are not believed to be a factor in the incident.

It will be up to the Johnson County District Attorney to file charges.

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