KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Northland family is hoping for answers two weeks after a hit-and-run driver killed their father.
Rockne “Rocky” Gross, 73, was walking in his Kansas City neighborhood near North Walrond Avenue and Maplewoods Parkway on Thursday, March 23, around 3:15 p.m. when it happened.
With no witnesses and no video of the actual crash, police have little to go on and have yet to make an arrest.
The victim’s family is working with Crime Stoppers and offering a $5,000 reward to anyone with information that leads to an arrest.
“I honestly would just like to look the person in the eye and just let them see what their actions have done,” said Rocky’s daughter, Shawnda Gross.
She and her sister, Andrea Grow, spoke with FOX4 about the tragic accident and how they’ll remember their father.
“He was big into anything outdoors: gardening, woodworking, nature. He had the biggest green thumb,” added Andrea.
The women described their dad as a social, outgoing, helpful, and charitable man who was always there for everyone. One of the things he loved most in the world was his wife, two daughters, and five grandchildren.
“He supported all of our sons and daughters through all of the sports they did. He was the grandpa who was always there. Even the coaches knew him,” she said.
Rocky was also a fan of volunteering. After retiring from the federal reserve after 36 years, he regularly helped out at his church, St. James Catholic Church, and Habitat for Humanity.
In fact, on March 23, he had just returned home from volunteering when he decided to go for a routine walk.
His daughters said the 73-year-old loved to go on two-to-three-mile walks everyday, if the weather permitted, and that he was in extremely good health.
A big Habitat for Humanity project he’d been working on for five weeks had finally wrapped up. He sent his daughters a final text message saying, “I’m done,” to indicate the project was complete. When he got home that afternoon, he went out for a walk around his neighborhood.
At around 3:18 p.m., a neighbor’s home security footage captured Rocky walking along the development’s sidewalk. However, a tree line blocked the view of Rocky getting off of the sidewalk and onto a crosswalk. Three minutes later, a 911 call came in about a man down in the road. His family said the person who called was not the driver who’d hit him.
First responders rushed him to North Kansas City Hospital, unaware of exactly what had happened. After thinking he may have had a heart attack or stroke, scans showed he had significant injuries from head to toe, consistent with being hit by a car.
Andrea said he had, “bleeding in the brain, subdural hematomas, and a couple of flesh wounds.”
He also had a fracture in his cervical vertebrae, two fractures in his thoracic vertebrae, a broken rib, and separated shoulder, as well as significant injuries to his pelvis and sacrum, and a fracture to his ankle.”
Rocky spent nine days in the ICU. His medical team chose to put him on a ventilator to try to get him to the point where they could surgically stabilize things. However, he coded on March 31 and passed away.
“He tried his best, and just, recovery wasn’t meant to be, I guess,” she said.
The family is still waiting on an autopsy.
“Our entire lives have been turned upside down and broken because of this, and there’s no accountability because we don’t know who’s at fault. We don’t know who did this,” Shawnda said.
Her father had just celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary last summer and was supposed to celebrate his 74th birthday on April 20. But instead of planning a birthday party, the family is now planning a funeral.
“We do understand accidents happen, but even if was just a 100% pure accident, we would just like there to be some responsibility taken,” Shawnda said, “and just coming forth and talking about what happened so we can have closure.”
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While nothing can bring their beloved father back, they can get closure, which is something they want. “I’m not looking to ruin another family’s existence by taking away another loved one, but I agree, we just want to know or understand better what happened,” added Andrea.
Rocky Gross’ funeral will be next Thursday, April 13, at St. James Catholic Church. A visitation will happen the previous day, April 12, at the same church.