OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - Around 11 p.m. on a Friday night, drivers traveling east on 135th Street in Overland Park unexpectedly approached a massive swath of orange cones and flashing nights.
Johnson County area law enforcement agencies staged an imposing sobriety checkpoint in the parking lot of the St. Andrews Golf Club.
For sober drivers, the effort to curb impaired driving meant a 10-minute detour to their traffic plans.
For the handful of drivers asked to walk the line , the night took a quick turn for the worse.
But for Julia, who asked 41 Action News not to use her last name, the law enforcement presence was a welcome sight, mixed with a touch of irony.
“I’m glad to see this is happening. I hope you nail a lot of people tonight,” Julia told Overland Park Officer Michelle Koos as she checked for any signs of intoxication.
Julia then explained to 41 Action News why the checkpoint struck her as a bit ironic.
“I was just coming home from visiting my parents at a rehab center, where they are recuperating from almost being killed by a drunk driver,” she said.
The crash on the afternoon of April 22 folded up her parents’ car like an accordion.
According to the police report, witnesses saw another driver merge onto I-435 near the Antioch exit, collide with Julia’s parents’ vehicle, and force it into the concrete barriers.
The violent collision deployed air bags and broke bones. Julia said the road to recovery has been slow. On several occasions, she feared her parents, ages 84 and 79, wouldn’t survive.
Criminal charges against the driver are pending blood test results.
“The person who hit them is still out enjoying her life and my parents, my brother and myself started serving our sentence immediately,” Julia told 41 Action News. “It just dropped a bomb in the middle of four lives.”
Before leaving, Julia sought out Officer George Naylor, who arrested the suspected drunk driver on the day of the wreck. She updated Naylor on her parents’ conditions and then gave the Overland Park traffic safety officer a hug.
Before leaving, Julia heard about the map of alcohol-related crashes compiled by 41 Action News and said she hoped it drove home a message to the public.
“It happens to people day in and day out,” she said. “It’s not just vehicles being crunched. It’s people’s lives.”