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Crash kills crime-scene investigator on his way home from work

  • The Kansas City Star
  • Published Saturday, July 6, 2013, at 9:53 a.m.
  • Updated Monday, July 8, 2013, at 2:20 p.m.

Michael Chou loved being a crime scene investigator, watching bad movies and committing random acts.

Like wearing a “full-on” shark suit to a three-hour college class one Halloween. Or fostering four feral kittens so they could find homes. Or entering a 10-mile Tough Mudder event.

“He didn’t even train for it. It’s ridiculous,” said George Santoro, Chou’s college friend and co-worker in the crime scene investigation unit of Kansas City’s police department.

Chou, 29, died early Saturday in a wreck at 66th Street and Troost Avenue.

A vehicle traveling at a “very high rate of speed” struck Chou’s as he left the crime lab parking lot about 3 a.m., police said.

Chou had just finished the night shift, having moved from the day side on June 28. It’s a livelier shift, given the nature of the job. And he was joining friends.

“It’s so tragic and so senseless,” said Linda Netzel, director of the department’s crime lab. She was involved in hiring Chou two years ago.

Chou always was ready to take on more work in a job that exposes investigators to “the absolute worst side of people and circumstances,” Netzel said. He handled his duties professionally and carried the burdens seemingly without effort.

“I’m not sure I ever saw the kid tired,” Netzel said. “I knew every time I saw him, I’d be greeted by a smile.”

Melanie Fields, Chou’s supervisor in the crime scene unit, said he’d been approved for a night side transfer a few weeks earlier but circumstances, such as filling in for a sick co-worker, kept him on days until last week.

“It kept getting delayed, but he had a good attitude about it,” Fields said.

She had asked Chou to foster the kittens. One found a home and Fields picked up the other three Saturday, after the accident.

Police said Chou was alone. The impact was so hard that Chou’s vehicle was “split into two pieces,” according to a tweet from Police Chief Darryl Forté.

An Independence man, Larneal D. Davis, 28, was charged late Saturday with one count of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the incident.

According to court records, police pursued Davis' vehicle after it was observed speeding north on Troost. When police came upon the accident scene, they found the driver attempting to flee and apprehended him.

The driver had a strong odor of alcohol, according to court records, and told police he had been celebrating his birthday.

To reach Mark Davis, call 816-234-4372 or send email to mdavis@kcstar.com. To reach Mará Rose Williams, call 816-234-4419 or send email to mdwilliams@kcstar.com.

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