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Lathrop man killed in wrong-way crash

by Valerie Verkamp
Landmark reporter

A man was killed after a 20-year-old driver going the wrong-way crashed into him on Friday afternoon in Kansas City in Platte County.

Ronald Knapp, 64, of Lathrop, died when his vehicle collided with a vehicle going the wrong-way on the ramp from northbound Interstate 29 to southbound Interstate 635.

Kansas City police say the 20-year-old driver from Midtown was originally southbound on Interstate 29 headed back into Downtown Kansas City when he mistakenly got off on Interstate 635 south.

In an effort to get back onto Interstate 29 the motorist used the north ramp from Interstate 29 to southbound Interstate 635.

“I think he was unfamiliar with the area and panicked thinking he was lost and headed to Kansas, said Sgt. Bill Mahoney with the Accident Investigation Section of the Kansas City Missouri Police Department.

Sgt. Mahoney said alcohol does not appear to be a factor in the crash, but when a fatality such as this occurs the driver's blood alcohol content is always checked. When those results come out they will be handed over the Platte County Prosecutor's Office along with all other evidence gathered at the scene of the wreck.

During Friday's investigation, a prosecutor came to the scene of the accident to take a look at the situation. The prosecuting attorney's office will decide what charges are appropriate, but Sgt. Mahoney says the driver will absolutely be facing criminal charges.

Kansas City police declined to release the driver’s name until charges are filed.

Shortly after the accident the young driver was booked and questioned, but was later released. He was not injured in the crash.

As the investigation continues, authorities are hopeful they will learn more about the collision, including the rate of speed.

“It can be difficult when you are talking about highway speeds because it's obviously going to create a pretty significant amount of damage when two vehicles hit opposing each other at those speeds, but we should know more by the end of the week,” said Sgt. Mahoney.