Business

Teenage passenger dies, new restaurant destroyed in early morning crash in midtown

Midtown restaurant, which opened in April, destroyed in crash

Freshwater restaurant owner Calvin Davis woke up Saturday morning to a nightmare. His newly-opened restaurant was smashed by an overnight car crash in which a passenger died. Calvin said he knew it was an unsafe location and had been working on a
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Freshwater restaurant owner Calvin Davis woke up Saturday morning to a nightmare. His newly-opened restaurant was smashed by an overnight car crash in which a passenger died. Calvin said he knew it was an unsafe location and had been working on a

Kansas City police said a crash at about 3 a.m. Saturday resulted in the death of a passenger and destroyed a local restaurant.

A tow truck was traveling north in the middle lane of Southwest Trafficway, carrying a black GMC pickup truck, when its left rear was clipped by a gray Honda traveling north in the inside lane. The Honda lost control and traveled across the other two lanes, striking the dining room of Freshwater, a new restaurant at 3711 Southwest Trafficway, and collapsing the south end of the building.

The vehicle rotated back onto Southwest Trafficway, facing southeast.

A 19-year-old female passenger in the Honda, Diamond M. May, of Kansas City, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said the driver of the Honda, Malcolm E. Hawkins, 25, had minor injuries. Hawkins was taken into custody for investigation as to whether drugs or alcohol were a factor. The Jackson County Prosecutor’s office issued a statement late Saturday that Hawkins faces charges of the Class B felony of driving while intoxicated, causing a death with blood alcohol level of .18 or above, and operating a vehicle without a valid license. Prosecutors requested a bond of $100,000.

Calvin Davis, who opened the Freshwater restaurant in the spot in late April, saw the extensive damage to his new restaurant.

“The really sad part is someone lost their life in this and it could have been prevented so easily,” he said.

Davis — grandson of KC Masterpiece barbecue sauce founder, the late Rich Davis — wanted to offer fine dining at approachable prices.

He left his restaurant around 1 a.m. Saturday, planning a “normal morning” buying fresh produce at the City Market. But around 9 a.m. his father, who is visiting from Florida, was pounding on his bedroom door, saying they had to get down to the restaurant, as there had been an accident.

“We will be closed for quite awhile,” Davis said.

Davis has business interruption service and plans to rebuild. He will pay his dozen employees during the downtime, estimated to be about three months if all goes as planned.

He was excited to be on bustling Southwest Trafficway, saying the building served as a “billboard” for the new restaurant. Customers entered through a back parking lot.

Just a sidewalk separates the restaurant from six lanes of traffic.

Davis, 27, said some cars speed by at more than double the speed limit and a couple of cars have driven up on the sidewalk since the restaurant opened in late April. So he started a petition to put a barrier in front of the strip. He said in all his travels he has never seen an open sidewalk and businesses next to such a busy trafficway.

“I’m crushed beyond words,” he said.

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ALLISON LONG along@kcstar.com

Freshwater in midtown specializes in local, fresh ingredients on its fine-dining but affordable menus. Calvin Davis, grandson of Rich Davis of KC Masterpiece fame, recently opened the restaurant. This video was originally published June 9, 2017.

Joyce Smith: 816-234-4692, @JoyceKC

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