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DERBY, Kansas — As the parents of a 14-year-old teen killed in one vehicle crash involving a 14-year-old driver prepare for an event this weekend honoring their son, they learn prosecutors are not filing any criminal charges in the case.
“We’re upset because of the message this could potentially send to parents and teens where as we’re hoping this can be a lesson to many people,” said Braxton Kooser’s father Rob.
Braxton died on January 26 near the intersection of Webb and 87th St. North after he was tossed from a rolling SUV. His friend, a 14-year-old boy, was driving and lost control. Two other young teens were also in the vehicle without adult supervision.
Rob and Alana Kooser say the four friends were at the movies that night and one of the teens parents allowed the 14-year-old to drive them all home.
“Its so frustrating for us because so many little things could have changed the outcome of the entire event obviously,” said Alana Kooser.
While citations for traffic offenses were issued in the case, the district attorney will not pursue more serious charges.
Marc Bennett said after a nearly eight month investigation, they reviewed the facts and the applicable laws.
“Each case involving a death, especially one involving a child, is a tragedy and I extend my sympathies to the family,” said Bennett.
He points to a recent court decision from July 19, 2013. In State v. Allen, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled vehicular homicides “require something more than ordinary or simple negligence yet something less than gross and wanton negligence.”
A balloon launch in Braxton’s memory is planned for Sunday at 7 p.m. at the high school football stadium. Hundreds of purple balloons will be launched into the sky to honor the teen.
The family has set up a website to honor Braxton and promote the balloon launch. You can find more details at braxtonkooser.com