MoDOT director criticizes prosecutor for not charging driver in deadly work zone crash

Published: Sep. 9, 2022 at 7:29 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- The director of the Missouri Department of Transportation sent a letter challenging the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney’s decision not to charge a driver who crashed into a work zone and killed two workers and an unborn child. The prosecuting attorney, Wesley Bell cited a medical emergency suffered by the driver right before the crash as the reason for not filing charges in the case.

This is a case only News 4 investigates has been following closely for months.

The deadly crash happened last November in a MoDOT striping crew’s work zone on Telegraph road at Interstate 255 in south St. Louis County. Two workers, James Brooks and Kaitlyn Anderson, died in the crash. Anderson was six months pregnant with a son she named Jaxx. Another worker, Michael Brown, was severely injured.

In June prosecutors made the decision not to charge the driver, Stanley McFadden, saying the crash happened because of a medical emergency related to diabetes.

READ: Grand jury decides not to charge driver in deadly MoDOT crash

MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna sent a letter this week questioning the decision not to prosecute the driver in the deadly crash. He also asks the state’s attorney general to get involved.

The letter from McKenna was the second letter the head of MoDOT has sent prosecutors about the case. The first letter he sent in April asked for charges to be filed. That request was sent days after a previous News 4 investigation into the crash.

In the most recent letter, McKenna questions how prosecutors handled the case and says because of that, the state’s attorney general should step in.

Reporting by News 4 Investigates this week exposed that MoDOT disciplined the working crew’s supervisor over the crash. The supervisor was accused of not doing key parts of his job, including safety setups.

READ: MoDOT letter shows crew supervisor failed key parts of job prior to deadly crash, faces probation

A day after that story aired, McKenna sent the letter. McKenna says in the letter that St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell should have charged the driver with “aggravated endangerment of a highway worker.”

That state law sets up how a driver can be charged for killing highway workers in a work zone.

Mckenna wrote “your actions in failing to file charges against Mr. McFadden sends the message that their lives did not matter and serves as another setback to all MoDOT employees.”

A spokesman at the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office made it clear they’re not going to review the case. The office referred News 4 back to the statement it released in June saying it would not be charging McFadden.

In the June statement, Bell said the driver had a medical emergency related to his diabetes. His blood sugar level was so low it led to a “sudden loss of brain function,” which was “not unlike” a drunk driver.

Bell went on, writing “not every tragedy is a crime, and this incident is without question a horrible, heartbreaking tragedy.”

Brown, the worker who survived the crash, talked to News 4 earlier this week about his concerns.

“I find it very coincidental the timing of everything,” Brown said. “It’s almost like not until they started getting blasted in the media that MoDOT started taking action.”

MoDOT said it wouldn’t speak directly with News 4 because the department is facing a civil lawsuit in this case.

McKenna’s letter was sent to Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and Attorney General Eric Schmitt.

Under Missouri law, the governor would have to request the attorney general to look into the matter.

The attorney general’s office said it couldn’t answer any questions, including if Schmitt saw this letter, because the office has not been brought into the case.

The governor’s office said it is looking into the matter.