On Monday, Nov.14, tragedy struck close to home. At about 6:10 a.m. an SUV was driving southbound on Highway 69 near 151st street. She crossed over into the northbound lanes hitting a white pickup and a black pickup. The driver of the vehicle, 29-year-old Heidi Lynn Adams, and her 9-year-old daughter Imogin Grace Adams died in the accident. Her 4-year-old daughter Alannah McKenna Adams and 7-year-old daughter Kyla Rianne Adams were also in the car. Alannah was rushed to the hospital in critical condition while Kyla made it out with only a few scratches. Both survived the accident.
“I heard that there was an accident on 69.” junior Amanda Bell said. “I didn’t know at the time who was involved, but I didn’t think that it would be close to us, people that my mom knew.”
The mother, Heidi was said to be selfless and gave much of her time to the girls. Neighbors, students, teachers, friends, family, and those that didn’t even know the family are saddened by this terrible loss.
“It just takes your breath away,” said neighbor Alyssa O’Meara. “You really, really think about those kids.”
While Alannah is only in pre-school, Kyla is in first grade and Imogin was in third grade at Lakewood Elementary. Although we tried to get information from teachers at Lakewood, the staff has been instructed by Blue Valley District office not to say anything.
“My mom worked with Imogin a couple of years ago,” Bell said. “She knew her siblings as well and was really shocked and sad. When she first got to school she knew something was wrong. The care team was there preparing to comfort the students. She went into Imogins classroom because the principal had sent her there. The teacher wasn’t there and there was a sub, she knew something was seriously wrong. The principal came along with the care team to tell the students in Imogin’s classroom.”
The day of the accident was a difficult day for the teachers and students, the teachers had to explain to the children why they would no longer see Imogin. Many people in the community are coming together to raise money for the Adams family. Contributions may be given to the Adams Family Fund at People’s Bank, 7579 West 151st Street, Overland Park KS 66223.
Kyla is a member of Daisy scouts and her troop is also organizing a fundraiser called Cookies and Cartwheels. The event took place Friday Dec. 9th at Pinnacle Gymnastics from 4:30-7:30 p.m. They are asking for an $8 donation to drop off kids for an open gym and cookies from places such as Hen House, Price Chopper, 3 Women & An Oven, Costco, and a few other places with be sold for $.50 each or 3 for $1.00.
“Our girls are learning some valuable life lessons at a very young age, one of them is that everyone CAN do something to help.” Debbie Lindenlaub said.
The Overland Park Police Department released the accident report on Dec. 7, saying that Heidi lost control of her vehicle. While there have been many speculations about what may have happened, they still do not know the precise cause of the accident. The report shows that everyone in the car was wearing their seatbelt and the drivers of the other vehicles suffered minor injuries. The mystery of the cause is creating a lot of conflict.
Before the accident occurred, the Kansas Department of Transportation was beginning to look into highway safety. Over a five year period there have been 215 accidents and 57 injuries between 135th and 151st streets on Highway 69. After this accident the Kansas Department of Transportation released a statement saying that “The area would be the first to be evaluated for possible safety improvements.” This specific accident brought up the controversy of installing barriers along Highway 69.
Missouri estimates that these barriers save 45 lives a year. They are designed to prevent some accidents from becoming fatalities, but they can also be a danger and hinder the drivers chance of regaining control.
“I believe that they should have had barriers in the first place because of accidents like this,” Bell said.”After over 200 accidents, they should have been put up by now.”
There may be pros and cons to putting barriers along Highway 69, but regardless, something needs to be done to reduce the amount of accidents, specifically on the stretch of highway between 135th and 151st streets. With this accident, many people came to the realization that tragedy can strike anywhere, at any minute, to anyone.