Man charged in deadly crash previously convicted 14 times for suspended license, multiple DWIs

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – On Monday, prosecutors charged a metro man with causing a deadly crash in January.

Paul Dowdell, 39, is charged with driving while intoxicated resulting in the death of another person.

At the time of the crash, Dowdell was driving on a suspended license, according to court documents. He was also allegedly driving on a suspended license when police picked him up this past Saturday for running a red light.

According to Dowdell's record, he's been convicted 14 times for driving on a suspended license. He's also been convicted of driving while intoxicated five times.

"It's shocking," local attorney Chris Angles said.

According to court documents related to the Jan. 5 case, Dowdell sideswiped a semitrailer on the ramp from westbound Interstate 470 to northbound Interstate 49. It happened around 8 p.m.

The impact pushed the semi off the left shoulder of the highway and into the concrete barrier. Investigators say the semi traveled over the guardrail, through the median and across all oncoming lanes of 71 Highway. The semi then hit the concrete barrier on the other side of the highway.

The driver of the semi, 61-year-old Daniel Shafer, of Novinger, Missouri, was ejected and later died of his injuries.

"DWI is a tragic crime," Angles said. "It affects not only the family of the driver and the driver’s future, but in a situation like this has very tragic consequences."

Court documents show Dowdell was also injured in the crash and went to the hospital for treatment. The same documents show Dowdell left the hospital against medical advice -- and before police arrived to question him about the crash.

Investigators obtained Dowdell’s medical records and learned his blood alcohol concentration was .295 the night of the crash, court records say. That’s more than three times the legal limit.

"People out there that you see with repeat violations like this are clearly struggling with alcoholism," Angles said, "and so one of the questions judges have to deal with: Do we incarcerate people who are clearly ill?"

After police arrested him on Nov. 2, Dowdell denied knowing anything about the crash or ever driving a Cadillac. He also denied calling 911 the night of the crash.

Investigators presented phone records showing a log of his cell phone number calling 911 in the minutes following the deadly crash. Dowell then asked for a lawyer.

Dowdell is currently in police custody. Prosecutors have requested a $150,000 bond.

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