A 16-year-old driving the wrong way in a collision that killed him and two other people on K-254 on Sunday had told a Butler County sheriffs deputy earlier that morning that he had taken the hallucinogenic drug LSD, Sheriff Kelly Herzet said.
But at the time, Herzet said, deputies didnt have grounds to arrest the teen, identified as Dominic Stolfi of Benton.
Deputies contacted the teens father, but the father and the sheriff dont agree on what happened next. Somehow, the teen, who lived along K-254, later got into a Ford Explorer and drove onto the highway going the wrong way, Herzet said.
Before the crash, the teens father had refused to give permission to emergency medical services personnel to transport the teen to an Andover hospital, Herzet said. The father said he would take his son to the hospital himself, he said.
Eric Stolfi, the teens father, disagreed that he refused to let his son go to the hospital by EMS. Instead, he said, he wanted his son to ride in the ambulance with another boy, who also apparently had taken the drug. The two were best friends. But a deputy said he couldnt ride with the other boy, the father said. When he first got a call about his son, he said, he told the deputy send him by EMS. He said a deputy told him that your son is calm. I dont think hes taken as much (drug). Im going to release him to your custody.
Eric Stolfi said he took his son home, where the boy took a shower and got something to eat and water to drink. He made sure his son was in bed, and he hid all the keys. At 5 a.m., about an hour before the collision, his son was asleep, he said. Once he was sleeping, then I went and laid down, he said.
I was truly trying to be a father to my son. I was trying to protect him.
Later the father woke up to all this banging around. His son had somehow found a set of keys, opened the garage door and drove off after crashing into the house and a trailer.
His son didnt make it far down the highway before colliding with a car carrying two Potwin women, Lisa Hardy and Nancy Ross.
Our prayers and sincere regret go out to the victims and their families, said Stolfi, who owns Storm Defense Shelters, a business that installs underground shelters in garages.
As for the son he lost, he said, Everybody loved Dom, adding that his son had a nice, gentle spirit. The 16-year-old was going into his junior year at Circle High School and was looking forward to playing on the varsity baseball team, according to his father.
In a telephone interview with The Eagle on Monday afternoon, the sheriff gave this account: At about 2:40 a.m. Sunday, Butler County deputies were sent to a residence near Benton on the report of a physical disturbance in progress. On the way, a dispatcher said that a juvenile was reported to be out of control because he had consumed acid, a term for LSD.
Deputies found a 16-year-old Kechi boy not Dominic Stolfi who was repeating himself and saying he was freaking out on acid, needed water and felt like he was going to die, Herzet said. Other juveniles at the party said the Kechi boy had taken two hits of LSD. Deputies retrieved square blotter papers as evidence. Drugs are often sold on such papers.
EMS took the Kechi teen to an Andover hospital.
Herzet said that although Dominic Stolfi was acting kind of funny a witness said the teen had been bumping into people and acting strangely at the party and had told a deputy that he had taken LSD, he was quiet and calm compared to the other teen.
A deputy found Dominic Stolfi sitting in the basement in his underwear with a blanket wrapped around his upper chest and head, Herzet said.
Still, he said, at that time, we didnt have any indication that we could arrest him.
Deputies found four juveniles and two adults at the residence. Its not clear what the relationship was between the adults and the teenagers at the party. Its possible that charges could be filed, Herzet said.
The collision occurred at about 6 a.m. near the Butler County-Sedgwick County line, about half a mile into Sedgwick County and east of Bel Aire.
The Kansas Highway Patrol is investigating whether Dominic Stolfi was under the influence of drugs, said Master Trooper David Monckton, who is heading the KHP investigation of the crash.
Dominic Stolfi and two women in the other vehicle, Hardy, 27, and Ross, 52, died at the scene.
The womens families couldnt be reached for comment Monday.
Both vehicles were traveling at no less than highway speed, Monckton said. The speed limit on that portion of K-254 is 70 mph.
It was a violent collision, to say the least, he said.
Investigators found no indication of tires skidding before the impact, he said.
Traffic on the highway was very light around the time of the collision, Monckton said. Still, emergency dispatchers received two reports of a vehicle driving west in eastbound lanes. One witness saw the green 2001 Ford Explorer driven by Dominic Stolfi run a stop sign at 159th before entering the highway going the wrong way, Monckton said.
The collision occurred only about 0.4 mile from where the Explorer got on the highway, Monckton said. The Explorer struck the black Buick Lucerne driven by Hardy. The two vehicles collided on the shoulder; according to a KHP crash log, the Buick veered to the shoulder to try to avoid the oncoming Ford.