Family of pedestrian killed on 71 Highway wants road safety improvements

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The family of a man who was hit and killed along 71 Highway near 53rd is grieving over his loss.

Kevin Hooker was struck by a vehicle while walking in the area early Monday morning. He was 51 years old.

“I don’t know exactly that he was doing at that time in the morning. I just know that I got a call from the police department saying that they had a message to deliver to me,” said Shonda Hooker, Kevin’s sister. She was first to hear the devastating news.

“Me and him have such a history, that’s the brother that was born after me and we had a very close relationship and I just-- I’m gonna miss him. I’m gonna miss him,” Shonda explained.

She said her brother was battling depression and was having a tough time dealing with the loss of two other brothers who have died in the past few years. Despite this struggle, she said her brothers genuine personality always shined through.

“He was just free-spirited, happy-go-lucky. He was a kid magnet. He didn’t have any kids but the kids loved him. He was the life of the party,” she explained.

Police say there have been 42 pedestrian-auto accidents on 71 Highway since 2009. 15 have resulted in death.

“It’s a lot of people I’ve heard a lot of people have gotten hit and killed between 53rd and 75th and Prospect. There’s been several people hit and killed on that road,” said Steven Hooker, Kevin’s Brother.

Many would like to see safety upgrades to the area to cut down on these deaths.

“It is really dangerous, and I think that the plans for that highway need to be revised. I think they need to make some adjustments, do some overpasses or something,” said Steven.

The female driver who hit Hooker stayed until police arrived on scene. She was cooperative throughout the investigation and no charges have been filed against her.

Hooker will be laid to rest on Saturday.