Copper crooks may be to blame after woman in wheelchair killed in crash

A Kansas City woman has died after she was hit by a truck while crossing a highway in a wheelchair early Tuesday morning.

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- A Kansas City woman has died after she was hit by a truck while crossing a highway in a wheelchair early Tuesday morning.

It happened at 12:06 a.m. on U.S. Highway 71 at Gregory Boulevard. The southbound lanes of US 71 were closed for over two hours.

Police say the woman, a 55-year-old in a motorized wheelchair, was crossing the southbound lanes of Hwy. 71 when a Dodge Ram hit her. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

On Thursday afternoon, the woman was identified as 55-year-old Andrea L. Gardner from Kansas City, Missouri. 

Officers say the driver of the Dodge stopped immediately and cooperated with police. The driver told police she simply couldn't see him. The police report adds that the street light was out.

The Missouri Department manages those lights. They say this stretch of Hwy. 71 has a huge problem with copper thefts, and the wiring box is easy to break into.

MoDOT officials say they are experimenting with some new boxes to reduce thefts. They caution drivers to be aware of visibility problems in the area at night and to slow down and keep their eyes on the road.

They also say no one should be tampering with the boxes except MoDOT workers. If you see someone else by the base of the pole, you should call the police.

"The copper theft doesn't just turn the lights out so it's less safe for pedestrians and bicycles. It also exposes that hot wire to anyone coming along, say a small child," said Perry Allen, assistant district engineer for MoDOT's Kansas City region.

Kansas City also requires proof of ownership for selling scrap copper. So, even if someone steals wiring, they likely won't be able to make any money off it locally.

Copyright 2018 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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