Crime & Courts

Wrongful death suit seeks damages in 2015 traffic death of legislator’s wife

Wichita police investigate the scene of an accident on Feb. 5, 2015, in which a woman was struck by a vehicle in the parking lot of the Dillons at 21st and Rock Road. Annette Hedke was killed in the accident.
Wichita police investigate the scene of an accident on Feb. 5, 2015, in which a woman was struck by a vehicle in the parking lot of the Dillons at 21st and Rock Road. Annette Hedke was killed in the accident. File photo

A state legislator whose wife was struck and killed by an SUV after she fell in a Dillons parking lot last year has filed a wrongful death lawsuit seeking damages from the man driving the vehicle and from the woman who owned it.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Rep. Dennis Hedke, R-Wichita, and his late wife’s estate, demands in excess of $75,000 for “bereavement, loss of companionship, loss of guidance and all other categories of loss allowed by law,” as well as the pain and suffering Annette Hedke experienced leading up to her death on the morning of Feb. 5.

It claims the driver of the SUV, 23-year-old Christopher Schrader, should not have been allowed to drive “given his use of drugs and his driving record.” It also alleges negligence on the part of Schrader’s mother because she gave her son permission to drive the 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe.

Schrader is criminally charged in Annette Hedke’s death. He has prior convictions for drug possession, having alcohol while underage, driving on a suspended license and driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, according to Sedgwick County District Court records.

Attorney Marc Powell, who is representing the Hedkes, said Friday that he filed the lawsuit last month to help “speed up” the payout of benefits by the auto insurers who provided coverage for those involved in the collision. Settlement discussions are underway, he said.

There was no attorney listed for the Schraders in court records on Friday.

“It’s not a typical wrongful death case where there’s a large dispute because there is insurance,” Powell said. “We’re just trying to get it resolved.”

Of Hedke’s death, he said: “It’s such a tragic thing. … (She) was such a close friend of many people.”

According to police accounts last year, Hedke, 60, was hit by an SUV pulling out of a parking stall and dragged about 15 feet after she fell near her car in the parking lot of the Dillons at 21st and Rock Road. The driver stopped, and he and others immediately rendered aid to Hedke, police have said, but she died at a Wichita hospital about 45 minutes later.

At the time of the collision, police said the driver didn’t see Hedke because of her fall. But in April, Schrader was jailed and charged with involuntary manslaughter, driving under the influence, driving while his license is suspended, distribution of marijuana and conspiring to distribute oxycodone.

He pleaded no contest to two of those counts — involuntary manslaughter and conspiracy to commit drug distribution — in November.

Schrader is scheduled for sentencing Monday before District Judge Warren Wilbert. He’s expected to receive prison time.

Amy Renee Leiker: 316-268-6644, @amyreneeleiker

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