Belton man mourns wife, daughter killed in wrong-way crash - KCTV5 News

Belton man mourns wife, daughter killed in wrong-way crash

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© Michael Ross/KCTV © Michael Ross/KCTV

A Belton family is grieving Tuesday after a 44-year-old mother and her 11-year-old daughter were killed by a wrong-way driver.

Authorities say the 18-year-old wrong-way driver had a blood-alcohol level more than double the legal limit two hours after Monday morning's crash.

Buddy Bronson is grief-stricken Tuesday after his wife, Diane, and daughter, Anna, were killed while driving from their Belton home to Sugar Creek's Fourth of July parade. Buddy Bronson participated in the parade.

Buddy Bronson said Anna was "Mommy's little girl" who loved tea parties and dancing. He described his wife as his "Irish spitfire." He said the mother and daughter were inseparable.

"Neither one of them could live without each other," Buddy Bronson said while fighting tears. "She and Anna were joined at the hip. If either had to go, it's fitting they went together."

Buddy Bronson said the wrong-way driver that prosecutors say killed his wife and daughter will have to live with his decisions for the rest of his life.

"I miss my wife. I miss my daughter. I love them," a heartbroken Buddy Bronson said. "I love them. It's on you partner. I don't know what you were thinking."

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters-Baker announced Monday night that she filed two counts of involuntary manslaughter against the 18-year-old man. Interstate 435 in east Kansas City was closed for three hours Monday morning after the fatal crash.

In court documents, Peters-Baker conceded authorities aren't entirely sure of the man's identity, who Peters-Baker said is apparently in the country illegally. The man was identified as Felix Solano-Gallardo of Kansas City, Kan., but authorities said the suspect was evasive about providing identifying information.

Peters-Baker is asking a judge to set a $500,000 cash-only bond for the man. Because the man is hospitalized, he has not faced a judge yet.

The suspect remains in serious condition in an area hospital. He invoked his right to attorney when questioned by investigators at the hospital, according to court documents.

The man's blood-alcohol content was .185 percent at 10:30 a.m., which was about two hours after the crash, according to court documents. The legal limit is .08 in Missouri.

Based on 911 calls police received starting at 8:20 a.m., authorities believe the suspect drove east on Interstate 70 in the westbound lanes from downtown Kansas City onto Interstate 435, according to court documents. The suspect then drove south in the northbound lanes of Interstate 435 before striking a car driven by the Belton woman, according to court documents.

Kansas City police said the Bronsons died immediately from their injuries. They were in a black Impala struck by the suspect's white Mountaineer, police said.

The crash happened just after 8:30 a.m. in the northbound lanes of Interstate 435 near Blue Parkway. The northbound lanes reopened at 11:45 a.m.

KCTV5's Eric Chaloux reported that no skid marks were left, leading investigators to believe the head-on crash occurred at highway speeds.

"You have no time to react," Kansas City Sgt. Jim Fuller said. "If you're closing in at 65 mph and [he's at] 65 mph, it would be like driving 130 mph into a stone wall. You just don't have any time."

Witnesses told police that the Mountaineer was seen driving the wrong way on Interstate 70 near downtown Kansas City. Police said the Mountaineer may have hit a concrete median near downtown. After receiving phone calls about a wrong-way driver on I-70, Fuller said officers were searching the area highways for a wrong-way white SUV when the first 911 call about the I-435 crash came in at 8:32 a.m.

"We dispatched emergency vehicles to find it, but, unfortunately, we were unable to get there in time before this accident occurred," Fuller said.

Buddy Bronson said he is heart broken but glad Diane and Anna died together since in life, "They were always together." He said the irony is that Anna nearly wasn't born because of a serious crash. He said when Diane was eight months pregnant, she was hit by a semi.

Buddy Bronson told Chaloux Tuesday that it was "a miracle" that Anna was born.

"I thought I lost her then. I got 11 more years," he said. "I tried to make her Daddy's (little) girl, but she was always with her Mom."

Diane is also survived by two sons who are older than Anna.

Chaloux will have more on his interview with Buddy Bronson on KCTV5 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.


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