KANSAS CITY, Mo — The Westport community is mourning the loss of victims from Wednesday night’s deadly crash. Friends who say they knew one of the victims are speaking out about the void they feel in their close-knit circle.
“He was absolutely hilarious, and sassy, and one of the realest people you’d ever meet. Stylish and artistic,” Kailyn Ash said. “Unforgettable. He was unforgettable.”
Chad Ruddle, who also knew the same victim, said he was an eyewitness to the crash.
“It’s crushing,” Ruddle said. “I could see the fire truck that was literally holding up the second floor as it was crumbling. And there was another vehicle in front of that, that was inside.”
Ruddle and Ash often spent their weekends going to bars with friends in the Broadway and Westport Road intersection. They frequented what was once Riot Room, a concert venue space damaged by Wednesday’s crash. The establishment closed in early October due to the pandemic.
Ruddle is mourning the loss of a long-time home and a member of his own community.
“I shudder to think of what might have happened if Riot Room was still open,” Ruddle said. “Vehicle was literally crashed right into the audience and stage area.”
Jaiden Manche who works at Buffalo Exchange, across the street from the scene, said it has been rough getting through her workday. She first saw a video of the crash Wednesday night when her friend sent it to her, but it was even more devastating to experience the scene in person.
“Nauseating. It’s hard to see,” Manche said.
Manche said it has been difficult to imagine the perspectives of the people involved. She especially feels for the first responders who were involved in the incident.
“My heart like fell out of my chest. I was like are you kidding? How does this happen?” Manche said.
Both Ruddle and Manche said what used to be a safe and lively neighborhood has changed a lot over the years.
“It's always something in Westport, it really is always something in Westport,” Manche said.