KANSAS CITY, Mo. — You might assume it’s impossible to kill someone with your car and not face charges, but it’s happened in Jackson County.
Eighteen-year-old Blake Gresham was a tow truck driver working on the side of the Kit Bond Bridge (Interstate 35) August 27th, 2012 when he was killed by a passing trucker. The man who police say hit him, Thomas Wyatt, has never been charged.
“They’ve done nothing. They didn’t write the guy a ticket,” said James Gresham, father of Blake.
James Gresham is not mad at Kansas City, Missouri police, he’s mad at Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker.
“I feel if it had been an officer or a firefighter, paramedic or something they would’ve charged the guy… nothing,” said Gresham, adding, “As far as they’re concerned, it’s dropped.”
Peters Baker declined to answer questions in person from FOX 4 about this case. Instead her office released this statement:
“The Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office has reviewed the case several times internally. The office’s Homicide Committee agreed not to prosecute and a separate attorney not involved in that review was asked to look at the case, as well as state statutes that might apply. All agreed that the office couldn’t file charges based on the evidence.”
Blake’s parents dispute the lack of evidence. Their civil attorney, Rob Sullivan, told FOX 4 he discovered plenty of evidence when he sued Thomas Wyatt and Wyatt’s trucking company.
“Quite honestly I think if it was a law enforcement officer or any other public servant, that it would’ve been prosecuted in a heartbeat,” said Sullivan, adding, “The police officer who wrote the report testified that there was a violation of the Move Over law.”
The Missouri measure demands passing cars slow down and move over a lane while passing emergency vehicles on the side of the highway. Sullivan obtained dashcam from a bus driving behind Wyatt that he says shows Wyatt never slowed his speed or moved over a lane before side-swiping Blake Gresham and the mirror on his tow truck.
Kansas City, Missouri police gave Wyatt a Breathalyzer test that showed no presence of alcohol. Sullivan said Wyatt refused a blood draw to test for the presence of drugs. When KCPD officers asked Peters Baker’s office for a search warrant, Sullivan said that police were told they lacked probable cause for a blood draw.
Under federal law, commercial trucking companies are supposed to get a blood sample from their drivers if their driver is involved in a fatal accident. Sullivan said that never happened in the Gresham case.
“Essentially the company thought the police were getting it because they took him to the hospital to get a blood test, the police assumed the company would get it,” Sullivan said.
During Wyatt’s videotaped civil deposition, Sullivan can be heard asking Wyatt: “Was it a concern of yours that there may be drugs in yours system?”
Wyatt replied: “I was concerned that they might find marijuana, yes.”
Prosecutors can’t use evidence obtained in a civil trial for a criminal prosecution, but Sullivan and Blake’s parents point out there was other evidence.
Wyatt had a passenger named Daniel Lamas. In his video-tape deposition Lamas described warning Wyatt repeatedly that there was a tow truck ahead of them on the side of the bridge.
“I told Tom, ‘Watch out for that truck,'” said Lamas.
When Sullivan pressed him as to whether he got a response from Wyatt, Lamas said he got no response. In the final seconds before impact, Lamas testified he was screaming at Wyatt to move over.
“I just told him, ‘Oh my God, stop the truck, you just hit that man. You just hit that truck, stop the [redacted] truck,'” Lamas said.
Tow truck drivers from across the metro gathered near the Kit Bond Bridge on the one year anniversary of Blake’s death, to honor his memory and to call attention to Missouri’s Move Over law.
A few days after the anniversary, his parents settled with Wyatt and his trucking company for a confidential amount of money. Blake’s parents told FOX 4, the dollars are meaningless.
“I told them in the settlement, ‘Charge the guy and you can walk out of here,'” said James Gresham.
He has yet to cash the check. His wife Amy says she would trade the settlement in a heartbeat for criminal charges against Wyatt.
“I could care less about the money. I want something to happen to him. He has walked free from this whole thing and how is that right?” asked Amy Gresham.
FOX 4 reached out to Thomas Wyatt through his attorney and his ex-wife, but never received a response to our questions.