Disabled man gets probation for hit-and-run

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SHAWNEE, Kan. -- A 45-year-old Shawnee man with a developmental disability will serve no prison time for a hit-and-run that nearly killed his neighbor. Under his plea deal, John Krzysztow is unlikely to face more than 18-moths probation when he's sentenced on November 25th later this year.

Krzysztow was driving on the wrong side of the road December 30th, 2012 when he swerved onto the side of the road and hit Lee Helfrich as she was walking her dog along Midland Drive just west of I-435.

The impact knocked Helfrich out of her shoes and left her with a shattered leg, a broken neck, broken nose, punctured lung and three broken ribs. Krzysztow originally told police he didn't know he hit someone on his way to church, even though his windshield was completely smashed.

"He was scared and his ability to reason probably affected his ability to make a good decision," said Krzysztow's defense attorney David Langston.

Langston said his client only has an IQ of 58 but insists his diminished mental capacity is not why he's serving probation instead of prison time.

"You or I with the same set of facts and circumstances would've have been given the same plea offer," said Langston.

Langston said under Kansas law, a person has to have two felony convictions before they serve prison time for a hit-and-run, where no one dies. Krzysztow has a 1995 conviction for aggravated indecent liberties with a minor.

Hit-and-run victim Lee Helfrich said she was shocked Krzysztow even had a valid driver's license at the time of the accident.

"It is surprising. I'm going on the assumption that he slipped through the cracks," Helfrich said.

Actually, he didn't. At the time Krzysztow obtained his driver's license years ago, he could pass the test.

"His license was issued a long time ago, and he may have had developmental disabilities that may have progressed," said Langston.

In Kansas, getting your license renewed every six years only requires proof of residency and a vision test.

"If you're asking me, the question should he be driving, the answer is absolutely not. And immediately after this accident he surrendered his driving privilege permanently, " said Langston.

"For everybody's sake, I hope that's true. I hope it's a lifetime revocation, that he'll never get behind the wheel again," said Helfrich.

email: rob.low@wdaftv4.com
twitter @roblowtv

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