Prosecutors: Man was drunk, speeding Monday afternoon when he caused deadly crash that killed husband, father

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Joseph Surratt's mug shot from the Clay County Sheriff's Department

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Clay County Prosecutor’s Office charged a 20-year-old man with involuntary manslaughter in the death of  a husband and father, whom they say he crashed into head-on Monday afternoon while speeding and drunk.

According to the probable cause statement, Joseph C. Surratt, 20, of Lee’s Summit, told a detective he doesn’t know why he was driving his 1994 Pontiac Sunbird so fast when he lost control at 102nd and Woodland at about 2:15 p.m. Monday in the Northland.

Witnesses say Surratt was going about 60-85 m.p.h. in a 40 m.p.h. zone when he crossed the center line and crashed into the victim, George Sykora. Sykora, according to police, saw the car coming toward him and tried to pull off to the side of the road to avoid him, but the road has no shoulder.

Sykora was taken to the hospital, but died from his injuries.

According to police, Surratt told the detective that he drank three beers the morning of the crash, but in spite of a blood alcohol content of .255, he claimed he was not drunk at the time.

A computer check revealed Surratt’s driver’s license was already suspended.

Bond is set at $50,000.

Sykora leaves a wife and two children.

George A. Sykora and his wife have been married since August 1992. He was killed in a head-on car crash Monday, April 21. The other driver is charged with involuntary manslaughter.

George A. Sykora and his wife have been married since August 1992. He was killed in a head-on car crash Monday, April 21. The other driver is charged with involuntary manslaughter.

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  • Michael white

    I agree with Barb. Innocent person dies and this guy will barely get his hand slapped. Murder in the first degree. It was no accident when u drink and drive ane put other peoples live in jeopardy

  • Steve Felten

    He should of left on foot like R J Okelly after killing Buddy Bronson, Then he could get probation or 120 days rehab and get away with murder. Drag it out 1 year and most people forget. Not me.

  • James D.

    Prosecuting Attorney Home
    Daniel L. White
    Building: James S. Rooney Justice Center
    11 South Water Street
    Liberty, Missouri 64068
    Telephone: 816-736-8300

    You maybe able to send your complaints here. This kid needs to be in jail for life. Hopefully he does not get a slap on the hand.

  • Ed

    If this would have happened 20 minutes later it would have been a lot worse. Staley high school students would have been traveling this section of road as they left school. This guy needs to pay for what he has done. Prayers for the family and friends.

  • JD Reichel

    George Sykora was a wonderful man and his wife and kids have been robbed of decades of time.

    Joseph Surratt – you’ve taken the life of a great husband and father and there’s nothing you can ever do that can make up for that. If there is any justice in this world, you will pay for your crime and you will sober up and spend the rest of your life working to prevent drunk driving. You will never really understand what a great guy George was and how unfair it is that you’re the one who walked away from the accident you caused.

    • Jerry

      Well put. Suratt will have to think of what he did for the rest of his life. Every day he will have to think about it. He SHOULD have to think about it every day. I hope he does.

  • LSWest Grad

    I went to school with Joey for years. He’s not a murderer- he’s a kid with a problem. This just goes to show how messed up our alcohol policy is- if it was legal for kids since age 18, he would have been taught responsibility with alcohol rather than to keep it under the rug. He deserves jail time, but American students deserve a dose of reality, and some education about the consequences of our actions. I just hope he doesn’t get stuck in the same vicious cycle of crime as many other jailbirds do- after all, he is still just a kid.

    • Shannon

      LSWest Grad;

      I agree with Amy.

      Legally, a person in this state stops being a “kid” when they turn 18. If they commit a crime from this point on in their life, they are not tried as a juvenile; they are tried as an adult.

      If this man decided that he was old enough to drink illegally and then proceed to drive (with a suspended license) and risk the lives of countless students, teachers, and parents, then he is far from being a “kid.” He made this decision and needs take responsibility for his actions.

      I understand there are two sides to every story, but if there is any justice left in our legal system this man will not be able to hide behind the defense of being a “kid” and will be forced to pay for what he has done.

      When you make reckless decisions, there are going to be consequences.

    • Jerry Cargill

      You blame it on policy? “joey” was tested almost 90 minutes after killing George with .255, and if he’d been tested on the spot, he’d have blown probably closer to a .3 because in 90 minutes he metabolized a bit of that booze.

      “Problem” yeah, he’s got a problem, getting that hammered at all, much less getting drunk at 2pm on a Monday???!!! Jail should solve his “problem”, to protect him from the public and keep him from booze for a few years. He may not have been a killer in high school, but he killed one of my best childhood friends last Monday. And more importantly he killed a father, brother and son.

      Wow, what a stupid comment.

  • LeAndreia Richardson

    Praying for the family! Mr. George was supposed to fix my car Tuesday afternoon. When I did not here from him I knew something was wrong. Mr. George was a very kind hearted individual who I will truly missed. It really hurts me because I know he was getting the parts for my car.

  • Troy

    I still can’t believe that this happened to my good friend George. So, George is murdered and the idiot only gets 10 years in jail? What does that mean? Out in 2-3 years for good behavior. My God….is there no justice! He should have gotten a hard 30 sentence! Why is he allowed to enjoy his life after he took George’s? I’m getting too upset….I’ll just keep praying for George’s family and hope that someday they find some peace. The world lost a good man in George, may he rest in peace.

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