HARRISONVILLE, Mo. — What police believe to be a case of drunk driving landed four people, including a child, in the hospital Wednesday night. It also landed the alleged drunk driver in jail.
The crash happened around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday near South Oakland and South Commercial streets in Harrisonville.
“I was outside on my back deck, and I heard a bang and what sounded like some kids screaming” Bridgette Hurla said.
Hurla ran outside to find out what the commotion was about but couldn’t see anything in the pitch black night — until the red and blue flashing lights of emergency vehicles cut through the darkness.
“I grabbed my daughter and I am running down the street, want to make sure it wasn’t one of my friends and her kids,” Hurla said. “And we went down there and saw all the emergency vehicles, and there was a couple of people on the ground. Don’t know who they were or anything.”
Unbeknownst to her, they were her next-door neighbors: 42-year-old Patricia Holloway, her 9-year-old son Andrew and Holloway’s parents, who are visiting for the holidays all the way from Lima, Peru.
The family was walking down the street when a woman, who police say was drunk, drove up behind them, hitting all four. Young Andrew has since been released from the hospital. His mother is in serious condition, and her parents are in critical.
Gretchen Otterberg, 48, was charged Thursday in Cass County with four counts of causing serious injury while driving under the influence. Her bond was set at $10,000.
South Oakland Street is a dark and dangerous road, plagued with speeders, neighbors say.
“That is really dark right there. I really have to watch it and be careful when I drive, and there is always kids out there, too,” neighbor Brent Bennett said.
Add to that police believe Otterberg was drunk, and it’s a recipe for tragedy.
“You got to really be careful coming through here. It is only 25 mph,” Hurla said.
The accident hits close to home for Hurla. In October 2017, her ex-husband, Shawn Hurla, was hit and killed at 215th and Switzer Road when a pick up swerved to avoid another car. Although the driver in that case was not drunk, Hurla believes both cases were avoidable.
“If I am going to go out somewhere, make sure you have a designated driver,” she said. “We don’t have Uber out here very well, so it is hard. But I just stay home. It is not worth it.”