Man who survived crash caused by drunk driver pushes bill to hold bar owners accountable

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- A drunk driver changed the life of an Overland Park man. Now he sets out to change a Kansas law.

"To be able to walk, it’s the best gift I’ve ever received," said Jeff Kudlacik.

From blood transfusions to surgeries and now months of rehab, Jeff Kudlacik is celebrating every small victory. He had to learn how to eat, drink, and talk again after a life-changing car accident. Jeff doesn’t remember what happened, but the marks left behind are a constant reminder.

"It’s a minor speed bump, minor plot twist, but things are okay," he said.

Court documents show a drunk driver ran a red light at 135th & Quivira and slammed right into Jeff. The driver was speeding, the force split Jeff’s car in two, leaving him with broken ribs and legs, and a punctured lung.

"I don’t think anyone wants to have their kids or themselves on the streets and have a drunken driver hit them. You just don’t," said his father.

Jeff and father, Rick Kudlacik, hope to make the streets safer by introducing a bill. It holds bar owners accountable for anyone injured by its drunk patrons, a law in place in many states.

"Kansas used to be a dry state for a long time, so to me that’s pretty weird that Kansas isn’t on board with that. We are going to do everything we can to try and change that," said Jeff.

In this case, Rick said the driver charged didn’t have insurance so the bills have mounted up — $3 million and counting. But that’s a small price to pay to still have Jeff in their lives.

"Today I see him laughing and joking, giving his father a hard time. I know he’s back to normal now," said Rick.

Jeff is now able to walk with a cane. Soon enough, he’ll be move out of the living room and back into a second-floor bedroom.

"For some reason I'm here and I cherish every moment. I’m extremely blessed. I thank everybody everyday. I thank God every day," Jeff added.

After this experience, he hopes to become an orthopedic surgeon to help others through the healing process after going through it himself.

There is a silent auction at Paradise Diner, where Jeff works ,Tuesday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. to help the family out with medical expenses.

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