Archive for Thursday, June 8, 2006

Motorcyclist succumbs to injuries

June 8, 2006

Gary Freitas, the motorcyclist severely injured in a May 21 accident in Baldwin City, died Friday at the Kansas University Medical Center as a result of those injuries. He was 66.

"He's gone," said Deb Shafer, a friend of Freitas'. "He was a good and dependable friend."

Freitas had been showing improvement until he suffered a massive heart attack last Wednesday afternoon while recuperating from his injuries. His funeral is at 1 p.m. today at Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home, Lawrence. Shafer is organizing a motorcycle caravan to the services.

Lt. Keith Hudson, the Kansas Highway Patrol trooper who investigated the accident, said Wednesday that Freitas' death impact the charges against the driver of the vehicle that struck him.

"It changes it pretty significant with the driver," said Hudson. "I met with the county attorneys office Saturday. They are reviewing it. It will be higher charges. They have been discussing the charges."

Freitas suffered numerous injuries during the accident, which occurred around 1 p.m. May 14 in the intersection of U.S. Highway 56 and Eighth Street. Freitas was westbound on U.S. 56 when a westbound vehicle driven by Richard Ridley, 52, Topeka, turned left in front of Freitas and struck the motorcycle, according to Hudson.

Freitas suffered head injuries, a broken shoulder and broken pelvis, among others. He was in a drug-induced coma for days. After he died, an autopsy showed that the heart attack was a result of the injuries, the trooper said.

"The autopsy says it is," said Hudson. "That's what the difference was. Once the medical examiner makes that determination, that makes the difference."

The trooper said the accident fits the criteria for a vehicular homicide charge, but doesn't know if the county attorney will file that charge.

"I think that's a feasible charge," said Hudson. "These are going to be serious charges, so you want to take your time. If not this week, it could be next week (when charges are filed)."

Charges were not filed or discussed until the outcome of Freitas' recovery in the hospital were known, he said, noting that he's heard about discussions concerning the investigation and the release of information on the Signal's Web site at www.baldwincity.com.

"I know there are some questions around Baldwin and some animosity on a Web site," he said.

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