Work in Sports
'Not ruling anything out'
Sheriff urges look at charging Thomas in deadly accident
Posted: Monday January 31, 2000 12:09 AM
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A sheriff has urged a prosecutor to consider charging Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas in a highway wreck that killed a passenger and left Thomas paralyzed from the chest down.
But Clay County Prosecutor Don Norris said he did not plan an investigation of the Jan. 23 crash on Interstate 435. An icy snow was falling at the time, and Norris said Saturday he viewed the accident as weather-related.
"I'm not ruling anything out," Norris said. "However, at this time there is no reason to be interested in the case unless they bring me something to say it was caused by something more than the weather."
Thomas was at the wheel of his 1999 Chevrolet Suburban bound for Kansas City International Airport when the vehicle veered into the median and rolled several times.
Neither Thomas nor passenger Michael D. Tellis was wearing a seat belt and both were thrown from the sport utility vehicle. Tellis was killed, and Thomas suffered severe spinal injuries. A second passenger was wearing a seat belt and suffered minor injuries.
Thomas was traveling at least 70 mph, according to Missouri Highway Patrol Cpl. Scott Meyer.
Meyer said Friday it was unlikely that his office would pursue charges against Thomas, in part because relatives of Tellis -- a close friend of Thomas -- asked that no charges be filed.
But Clay County Sheriff Bob Boydston on Saturday urged prosecutor Norris to reconsider his position and to request all investigative reports regarding the Thomas accident.
"With all due respect and consideration for the family of the person who died, I just have to feel Derrick Thomas has to be held responsible for his dual decisions -- not making sure everyone was belted in his car or adjusting his driving,' Boydston said.
There was no evidence that alcohol or drugs contributed to the accident. Because of that, Meyer said, the patrol did not have probable cause to ask that a toxicology report be done.
A written report detailing the accident investigation is expected to be released this week.
On Saturday, Meyer said he would talk to his superiors and to Boydston but did not think he would change his position.
"I could charge careless and imprudent driving for allegedly losing control of the car," he said. "But a court date would be set in March. Given Thomas' prognosis and condition, it won't do any good to bring him in [at this time]."
Meyer said he had up to a year to decide whether to file charges.
Boydston said he wasn't criticizing the way the highway patrol conducted the investigation, just the decision not to seek charges.