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Police identify mother killed when power lines fell after crash

Updated: 2013-10-18T00:25:38Z

By ROBERT A. CRONKLETON

The Kansas City Star

Lachelle M. Kemp of Leavenworth loved her children, so it was no surprise to friends and relatives that she rushed to check on them after she crashed into a power pole.

What Kemp’s friends are struggling with is that as Kemp tried to get her two small children out of the back seat, she came into contact with a power line and died.

“You hit a pole. Your family is OK. You’re OK. You get out of the car, and you are alive,” said Brandi Harvey of Leavenworth. “You step on the power line, and then it’s over.”

Witnesses told police the line was arcing and they heard a small explosion. By the time police arrived, Kemp, 26, was unresponsive. She was pronounced dead at a hospital.

The car that Kemp was driving struck the pole at Seventh and Olive streets in Leavenworth about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. Her 3-year-old son, Adidas, and 1-month-old daughter, Laila, were in the back seat unharmed.

“In a sense it was just a fender-bender,” Harvey said. “The car wasn’t totaled.”

In June, while pregnant with her daughter, Kemp was the victim of a stabbing outside a convenience store. According to The Leavenworth Times, she testified that she was wounded in the abdomen, head and back.

An ex-boyfriend, Richard T. Bennett, faces two counts of attempted first-degree murder in the incident. He has pleaded not guilty.

Kemp recovered from the attack and gave birth, her friends said. Her sudden death Wednesday, they added, was not fair.

Friends and family gathered Thursday at a north Leavenworth home to remember Kemp, whom they recalled as being a happy person and a happy new mom.

“She had a good spirit,” Harvey said. “She made people happy. She made people smile.”

Tondav Hardy of Leavenworth said Kemp could do that just with her smile. She also treated everyone the same, no matter who they were.

“She was the one to be herself no matter what,” Hardy said.

Lea Kemp of Leavenworth said her daughter was well-spoken and spoke her mind. She described her as loving and kind.

Lea Kemp said her daughter was headed to see friends at the time of the crash.

“She just left home and said: ‘Mom, I love you. See you later,’” Lea Kemp said. “That was the last time that I had seen her.”

When her daughter hit the pole, she said, she panicked just thinking about her kids.

Lea Kemp said her grandchildren will be living with her now.

To reach Robert A. Cronkleton, call 816-234-4261 or send email to bcronkleton@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter at cronkb.

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