‘There is no justice’: Families of killed MoDOT workers say prosecutors could have done more
ST. LOUIS - (KMOV) - The families who lost their loved ones in a deadly MoDOT work zone crash claim the justice system failed them.
Earlier this month, the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office announced it would not pursue charges against the driver that crashed into the work zone.
The crash happened on Nov. 18, 2021 and killed James Brooks and Kaityln Anderson, who was six months pregnant with a baby boy she named Jaxx. Another MoDOT worker, Michael Brown, was left with life-long injuries but survived the crash. Brown suffered a traumatic brain injury and multiple severe fractures.
The three families affected by the crash sat down together for the first time and spoke with News 4 investigators.
“There is no justice that’s been done here,” said Tonya Musskopf, the mother of Kaitlyn Anderson. “I feel that the prosecutor’s office failed all three of our families.”
The families are all questioning how the case was handled.
“You just can’t always go for the easy cases as a prosecutor,” Musskopf said.
St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Welsey Bell sent the case to a grand jury before announcing the decision to not pursue charges. The grand jury process is confidential. However, the families met with Bell once, a meeting that happened a few days before the grand jury convened.
“They didn’t fight hard enough for us and I felt it that day in that room,” Brooks said, talking about the meeting with prosecutors.
The grand jury did not recommend charges, but that decision is not binding. Ultimately, prosecutors can still choose to take a case to a trial judge.
Bell turned down multiple requests for an interview with News 4 Investigates. Bell released a statement outlining parts of the case.
Bell’s statement identified the driver as Stanley McFadden, a “diabetic” who during the crash was “suffering a medical emergency due to a sudden and severe drop in his blood glucose level.”
McFadden left the crash in an ambulance and was treated at the hospital. In a police body camera video from the crash scene, a paramedic can be heard talking about McFadden, saying, “blood sugar’s low, he said he’s diabetic.”
According to Bell’s statement, his office obtained a “medical specialist’s opinion,” which “resulted in McFadden’s diagnosis with hypoglycemia unawareness.” Bell’s statement called it a new diagnosis that “resulted in a sudden loss of brain function, not unlike the severe impairment from heavy alcohol consumption.”
“If it was the first documented case that he blacked out I think I would be forced to accept it was a tragic accident,” Musskopf said.
Recent reporting by News 4 Investigates uncovered McFadden was in another wreck three months before the deadly crash. Arnold Police records from August 2021 show McFadden drove off the road and that wreck was deemed a “medical emergency.”
Bell’s statement brought up the August crash and called it a “similar incident.”
In Missouri, if a driver is in a medical emergency crash, nothing requires them to be checked by a doctor. This means they can get back on the road with an undiagnosed condition. The only way to stop a driver is if an officer, physician, or family member reports them as “incompetent or unqualified” to drive.
In McFadden’s case, the first medical emergency crash from August 2021 doesn’t show up on his driving record. Arnold Police never gave him a ticket, and no one reported him as unqualified to drive.
The families say they want this tragedy to change Missouri laws.
“There has to be something where the state of Missouri looks at people who have had multiple accidents due to medical conditions, there has to be a point where you say ‘okay you need a break from your license,’” Musskopf said.
News 4 Investigates tried to ask Bell that, but he did not respond.
In his statement, Bell wrote “not every tragedy is a crime, and this incident is without question a horrible, heartbreaking tragedy.”
McFadden declined an interview with News 4 Investigates, but sent several text messages.
“I feel for the families more than I could ever explain or be able to speak about,” McFadden said in a text to News 4.
The families say they are not done fighting.
“Nobody wants to be accountable for their lives,” Brigit Brooks said. “It’s not fair, it’s not right and it’s unjust.”
McFadden’s license was revoked over the second accident. The Department of Revenue has the authority to do that if someone kills a MoDOT worker in a work zone.
News 4 reported that Kaitlyn Anderson’s family filed a civil suit against the driver for wrongful death and negligence. The other families are deciding on what they want to do next.
The families also said prosecutors did not ask the grand jury to weigh charges for Anderson’s unborn baby, Jaxx.
Anderson’s family is hosting a special charity event on August 13 from 12-6 p.m. at Arnold City Park.
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