Woman charged in hit-and-run that killed cyclist, father of 10

Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 10:32 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Friends of Charlie Criniere found some relief Tuesday knowing that 2.5 weeks after the cyclist was killed in a hit-and-run, someone was in custody and charged.

“That brought me peace,” said Ken DeBenedictis, who lived next door to Criniere, his wife and their 10 children.

The 43-year-old father, husband, church deacon and middle school teacher was killed in Aug. 27 shortly after 6 a.m. just north of View High Drive and Longview Road in Kansas City, Missouri.

Kyrie Fields, 27, was arrested on Monday and charged Tuesday is with two felonies: Leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death and tampering with a motor vehicle, the latter of which is generally defined as driving a stolen vehicle.

In a court affidavit, police reported she took the Acura MDX SUV to a house in Lee’s Summit late that night, told a resident there that she had hit a deer, then called a tow company using a different name to have the car towed to Grandview. There, a man was seen setting the car on fire the day after the collision.

JC Van Deventer is organizing a memorial ride for Criniere this weekend.

“Ten thousand times a year, a bicycle rides down that road. And, there’s some individual healing. We all ride that road,” he said of the path that circles Longview.

Criniere taught middle school math at Martin City K8. Before that, he taught math at Grandview High School.

Arden Czaszewicz, who teaches English language learners at the high school, said he had a gift.

“His love for people,” Czaszewicz said, when asked about his most enduring trait. “If he was talking to you, you were the only person who was important and you were the only person in the room.”

His close friend, Ryan Corrigan, is also a cyclist and has been riding the loop around Longview Lake daily since his death.

“There were so many questions I had about how could this happen? You know, on a straightaway like that,” Corrigan.

Now he has some answers. However, hearing them was like reliving that day when he got the news of his dear friend’s death.

“In some ways, it’s a relief,” Corrigan reflected. “It brings some closure. But you know, again, it makes it really all too real.”

After piecing together clues and arresting Fields, police asked her about it.

A police affidavit says she told them she “texted her friend,” “took her eyes off the roadway and when she looked up she struck the victim.” It also indicates she “stated she was high on Percocet at the time.”

“The first thing that came to my mind was, ‘Good. Closure.’ Not just for me, but for the family. Closure,” said neighbor Ken DeBenedictis.

He and his wife Erika are both friends and neighbors to the Criniere family. Like them, they are devout Christians.

“I’m angry that it happened. I’m not necessarily angry at the person because she made a huge mistake,” he said.

He’s talked with Criniere’s wife and said they are on the same page about the value of forgiveness, which can still involve accountability.

“Charlie would have looked someone straight in the face and said, ‘You screwed up. And, I forgive you,’” said DeBenedictis.

“I feel terrible for her,” said Erika DeBenedictis. “She’s 27 and to have to live with the fact that you killed someone, and [the impact on] this whole family, so many little kids growing up without their dad now. She’s got to live with that. And, I can’t imagine what that’s like. So, I feel bad for her. But, I do want her to face what she’s done.”

Van Deventer is expecting 500 people for Saturday’s memorial ride. The length of the rides will vary. A small group will go 100 miles. Specifically, they’ll go 10 times around the 10-mile loop. That is one loop for each of the 10 children now left without a father.

Previous coverage:

Cycling community announces ‘Bright Lights for Charlie’ ride after teacher is killed in hit-and-run

Woman charged in fatal hit-and-run that left teacher and father of 10 dead

Police find vehicle in hit-and-run that killed middle school teacher, driver still unknown

Community heartbroken after teacher on bicycle is killed in hit-and-run

‘Everyone wanted to be his friend’: Teacher killed in hit-and-run leaves wife, 10 children behind

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