Wrongful death lawsuit filed by family of Overland Park man killed by suspected drunk driver

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- A family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Johnson County on Tuesday against the teenager charged with driving drunk and killing their father.

Kevin Moroney, 52, died on August 7, 2014, while standing beside his girlfriend near the street in front of his house on Tomahawk Road.

Prosecutors have charged 17-year-old Conner Estrella with involuntary manslaughter and aggravated battery in the case. They said the teen was on probation and violated his curfew the night he drove drunk and slammed into Moroney and the woman standing beside him.

“You never stop thinking about it,” said Blakelund Moroney, one of Kevin’s four adult children. “It’s still tough. It doesn’t get much better. Everyone says it does. Maybe it will later, but so far, it’s still tough.”

It’s pain shared by his older brother, Brent.

“You don’t expect that that’s ever going to happen to you and when it does, it’s way worse than you can ever imagine,” Brent said Tuesday.

The Moroney children filed a wrongful death lawsuit Tuesday in hopes of raising awareness about teens and drunk driving and preventing similar tragedies.

The lawsuit is also against Estrella’s parents. It alleges they were negligent in providing their son with a car and not knowing his whereabouts while he was on probation.

The lawsuit lays out a timeline of Estrella’s indiscretions, including a Sept. 13, 2013, arrest for battery; an Oct. 15, 2013, arrest for drug paraphernalia; a probation period for the battery charge that began on Nov. 14, 2013, which the teenager violated on two occasions when he tested positive for THC and was arrested for having alcohol on school property; and a new six-month probation beginning on April 14, 2014, after his initial probation was revoked.

The suit reads: “Specifically, at all times relevant and herein, defendants Benjamin Estrella and Suzanne Estrella knew or should have known that defendant Conner Estrella was an incompetent, irresponsible and reckless driver by virtue of his past criminal record, specifically, his substance abuse history.”

The Moroney’s know the lawsuit will never bring their father back, but they hope it sends a message that hits home for other families.

“To spread awareness and just ask that people talk with their kids about drinking and driving,” Brent said, “underage drinking, and keep tabs on them and where they’re at and just be responsible parents.”

Brent continued, “I think if people saw firsthand the effects that underage drinking and drinking and driving have on a family, it would have a dramatic impact on their life and maybe change the way they look at life or the way that they act.”

Fox 4 went to the Estrella home Tuesday, but no one answered the door. Their attorney, Robert Luder, said he hasn't seen the new lawsuit and wouldn't comment.

In the meantime prosecutors are requesting to have Conner Estrella certified as an adult. A hearing on that motion is set for February 23.

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