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Plea agreement: KCFD driver from deadly Westport crash won’t face jail time

Dominic Biscari charged, pleads to 3 involuntary manslaughter counts Wednesday
Westport KCFD pumper truck crash victims.jpg
Posted at 4:32 PM, Feb 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-02 16:02:22-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City, Missouri, Fire Department pumper-truck driver who sped through a red light near Westport in December 2021, causing a crash that killed three people, will not serve any time in jail.

Dominic Biscari was charged Tuesday with three counts of second-degree involuntary manslaughter and has been placed on probation for three years, under the terms of a plea agreement his attorneys worked out with the Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

If Biscari violates the terms of his probation, he faces up to four years in prison for each charge.

Biscari is barred from carrying a gun, having contact with the victims' families and must complete some community service, the prosecutor's office said in a statement. Complete terms of the plea agreement were not immediately available.

Biscari's attorney released a lengthy statement after the Tuesday's plea hearing.

"Dominic Biscari is a fine young man from a wonderful, highly respected, hard-working local family," Biscari's attorney, Kevin Regan, said in a statement. "He and his family express their most profound love, concern, and remorse to the families of Michael Elwood, Tami Knight, and Jennifer San Nicolas. Dominic has already expressed his regret, sorrow, sympathy, and concern to the victims’ families privately."

The full statement can be read here.

KCFD Interim Chief Ross Grundyson said Biscari has been suspended and the city plans to fire him.

“The City will seek Dominic Biscari’s termination from the Kansas City Fire Department," Grundyson said. "He is suspended without pay pending an internal investigation.”

Biscari's attorney said he plans to appeal any suspension.

"If the City decides to suspend Firefighter Biscari, he will appeal that decision to the fullest extent of the law, and we are extremely confident that he will be reinstated," Regan said in an email to KSHB 41. "His rights have been violated by such a decision."

Biscari was driving a KCFD pumper truck north on Broadway Boulevard with lights and sirens activated at a high rate of speed as the more than 20-ton vehicle approached the traffic signal at Westport Road.

Biscari never appeared to slow down despite having a red light.

The KCFD pumper truck slammed into an SUV driven by Jennifer San Nicolas, which was crossing the intersection westbound on Westport Road.

San Nicolas and her passenger, Michael Elwood, died in the crash, the impact of which caused both vehicles to leave Broadway and plow into a nearby building.

Tami Knight, who was walking on the sidewalk with her boyfriend in the area, was killed when the vehicles left the road and crashed into the former Riot Room building, partially collapsing the building.

Elwood’s family released a statement to KSHB 41’s I-Team that said, in part:

The Elwood family has been advised of the plea agreement reached today between the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office nd Firefighter Dominic Biscari arising out of the tragic motor vehicle crash in Westport that took the lives of three individuals including our beloved son and brother Michael Elwood. We wish to express our deep appreciation to Jean Peters Baker and her staff for their thoughtful consideration of the facts of this case and the result obtained. We fully support this agreement and believe it strikes the proper balance in obtaining justice for all concerned.

Our thoughts and prayers continue for all involved.

We look forward to continuing our efforts in the civil cases to bring about meaningful safety changes within the fire department to reduce the likelihood of future tragedies.
Statement from the family of Michael Elwood

It took more than 14 months for prosecutors to bring charges against Biscari. KCPD turned over the case file to prosecutors roughly a year ago in February 2022.

His attorneys and Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker’s office worked out the plea deal before the charges were announced, resulting in a fast-tracked resolution to the case shortly after the three involuntary manslaughter charges were filed.

Such an arrangement is unusual but not unprecedented, according to Kansas City-area attorneys.

The resolution of the criminal charges against Biscari will not impact the remaining civil lawsuit filed against KCMO for breach of contract.

Biscari and IAFF Local 42, the union that represents KCFD, joined that $32-million lawsuit against the city after an arbitrator recommended precisely such a settlement with families.

Biscari and the city have already settled another civil lawsuit for the wrongful deaths of Elwood, Knight and San Nicolas.

The KSHB 41 News I-Team previously uncovered an email from another KCFD employee expressing concern about Biscari’s potentially reckless driving behind the wheel of an ambulance.

Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker released a statement after the plea deal was announced:

My office has been in contact with the attorneys for the victims' families over the course of our review of this case. Our office and the community send these families our deepest condolences. Though this plea will not restore their lives or heal their grief, it demonstrates a level of accountability for the actions of the firefighter who carried a public duty. We also hope this motivates further review of the best and the safest practices for operating public vehicles. Our community requires more care.
Statement from Jean Peters Baker, Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney

Deadly KCFD Westport crash: One year later by KSHB 41 I-Team

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly stated that the plea agreement prohibits Biscari from working for KCFD now or in the future.