KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Shawnee Mission South senior died Sunday after a crash on Interstate 435 involving a Kansas City police officer.
Before the start of the Kansas City Chiefs game at Arrowhead Stadium, an off-duty officer driving a KCPD van slammed into Chandan Rajanna's car on I-435 near the Stadium/Raytown Road. The impact killed the high school student.
Rajanna's 81-year-old father and 49-year-old sister, who were both in the car, were also critically injured in the crash, according to police.
Rajanna's classmates first learned about his death through a group chat.
On Monday, principal Todd Dain sent a letter to students’ families notifying them about the tragedy.
"We want you to know that we are here to help in any way we can," Dain said in the letter.
The school will have additional counselors, social workers and psychologists available to help Rajanna’s classmates and friends grieve, according to the letter.
A friend who has known Rajanna since kindergarten described him as a charismatic individual who played on the school football team.
Late Monday afternoon, KCPD released a statement in which it said the officer was on his way to work an off-duty assignment at the Chiefs game when the crash occurred.
The officer, who has not been identified, has been with the department for six years. He is currently assigned to the Police Athletic League where he mentors and coaches children who are the same age as Rajanna, according to KCPD.
The department noted that the officer was not impaired at the time of the crash.
"I want to start by saying that we are all devastated about yesterday’s events on 435 when an off-duty KCPD officer driving a department van was involved in a fatal crash,” Police Chief Richard Smith said in the statement Monday. “Our hearts go out to the victims of this crash and their loved ones who are hurting.”
The police van also struck two other vehicles after hitting Rajanna's car. People in those cars were not seriously hurt.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol is assisting KCPD in the investigation.