Car autopsy planned in crash that killed Blue Valley girl walking home from school

Overland Park police report: Out-of-control vehicle killed Blue Valley teen

A car driven by a 70-year-old Lenexa man careened out of control onto a sidewalk. The car killed 14-year-old Blue Valley student Alexandra “Alex” Rumple on April 12, a police report said.
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A car driven by a 70-year-old Lenexa man careened out of control onto a sidewalk. The car killed 14-year-old Blue Valley student Alexandra “Alex” Rumple on April 12, a police report said.

Police are awaiting the results of a car autopsy, among other reports, before they complete their investigation into the death of a Blue Valley middle school girl killed when she was struck by an out-of-control car in Overland Park.

The examination of the car will help determine whether there were any mechanical problems at the time of the crash, said Officer John Lacy, a spokesman for the Overland Park Police Department.

The driver, identified as 70-year-old Sudhir S. Gandhi of Lenexa, told investigators the brakes failed, according to a crash report released Monday by Overland Park police.

Alexandra “Alex” Rumple, a 14-year-old student at Oxford Middle School, died after she was hit by the car about 3:15 p.m. April 12 near the middle school at 12500 Switzer Road.

Police are also waiting on the final reports from her autopsy and toxicology results from the driver. Once all the results are in, police will put them in their final report and submit it to the Johnson County District Attorney to review and determine whether any charges should be filed.

“We are going to be very thorough and we are going to get it right,” Lacy said. “These type of investigations do take time. This is normal with a fatality accident.”

A certified mechanic will conduct the car autopsy, which will include examining the brakes to see if there was anything faulty with them at the time of the crash. That will include checking brake fluid, the hoses and valves that carry the fluid to braking system, and the brake pads themselves.

The mechanic will also look at the engine and the accelerator to determine if there were any problems. The mechanic will see if there’s any information available from the vehicle’s event data recorder, if it has one. But because of the age of the car involved in the Switzer crash, it was not immediately known what data, if any, would be recorded.

A vehicle autopsy can take as long as a week to complete, which includes the written report.

“There’s a lot of information that goes into that report,” Lacy said. “We take a vehicle and determine whether at the time of the accident it was operating correctly.”

In addition to reports that police are waiting on, witnesses continue to come forward providing additional details of what they remembered of the crash. Those revised statements are resubmitted as part of the final report, Lacy said.

Police anticipate that they will have their final report ready within a week or two and then will be able to submit it to the District Attorney’s Office.

Gandhi, the driver, has been interviewed by police several times, Lacy said. Because he may have lost consciousness while driving, police said, he was treated at a hospital the day of the crash. He was released from the hospital the same day.

Gandhi has told police that he remembered driving near West 129th Street and Switzer. He remembered that someone was in the roadway. He tried to stop, he told police, but the brakes were not working and he continued north until he hit the fence.

According to the report released Monday, witnesses told police that Gandhi was headed north on Switzer in a tan 2006 Ford Taurus when it drove up on the sidewalk near Oxford Middle School.

As it crossed West 124th Street, it continued on the sidewalk and grass parkway, where it almost struck three children who were exiting the crosswalk near Oak Hill Elementary School.

Witnesses told The Star Monday that the car was traveling “highway speeds” — estimated at more than 50 mph and as fast as 60 mph.

The car struck Alex, who was walking on the sidewalk near the 123rd Street intersection.

Gandhi’s car continued on, knocked a traffic light off its base and struck a speed limit sign. The car then slammed into a wooden privacy fence, destroying about 80 feet of the fence before stopping in the right lane of Switzer, according to the report.

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Robert A. Cronkleton gets up very early in the morning to bring readers breaking news about crime, transportation and weather at the crack of dawn. He’s been at The Star since 1987 and now contributes data reporting and video editing.