Woman Killed While Trying to Stop Reckless Driver, Witnesses Say
By CHRISTINE VENDEL
The Kansas City Star
A woman, who recently was in the news for helping find homes for cats, died after she was run over by a 16-year-old driver late Tuesday in Kansas City.
Before her death, Bee Etta Harkins of Cleveland, Mo., had walked into the street to confront the driver, who was weaving and peeling rubber, witnesses told police. Officers were continuing to investigate. No charges had been filed.
Harkins, who was known as Crickett Harkins, was in Kansas City on
Tuesday to help Sheri Thompson, who had been charged with having too many cats in her house in the 500 block of Spruce Avenue.
Thompson's house was declared unsanitary because of excessive cat
feces. The cats were going to be euthanized, but Thompson and Harkins were trying to catch some of the cats and find them homes.
Harkins had spent Tuesday showing Thompson how to catch the remaining cats in wire cages, friends said. Then Harkins went to visit her son's home, which is about a block from Thompson's.
As Harkins was leaving her son's house about 11:40 p.m. Tuesday, she
saw a driver hot-rodding around the block in an Oldsmobile, police said.
According to police, Harkins said: "Someone is going to end up getting hurt. I'm going to put a stop to this."
Harkins then stepped into the street to tell the driver to "knock it
off," police said. After that, witnesses' versions of events differed slightly.
Detective Jay McCune gave this account:
Harkins was on the hood of the Oldsmobile. She might have been hit and knocked onto the hood, or she might have climbed onto the hood after her shirt got caught on the front of the car.
The driver then began hitting the brakes to knock Harkins off the hood. She eventually fell off the hood and the driver ran over her.
One of Harkins' friends and one relative witnessed part or all of what happened, police said. The relative called 911.
An ambulance took Harkins to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 12:47 a.m.
Meanwhile, the driver had abandoned the car a block away from the
accident scene. The owner of the Oldsmobile, who lived in the neighborhood, told police she did not give the boy permission to drive her car.
Police officers were still at the scene about 2 a.m. when a boy who
said he was the driver surrendered to them. The boy was let go while police finished their investigation.
"It's really complicated," McCune said of the investigation. "There are a couple of witnesses I need to find and a couple of witnesses I need to re-interview to clarify a few things."
Harkins operated a cattery at her house in Cass County and might have had 50 to 100 cats there, friends said. She and others who called themselves the WarmFuzzys had worked to catch Thompson's cats and find them homes. But now it will be Harkins' cats that need homes. Her friends are searching for homes for them.
To reach Christine Vendel, police reporter, call (816) 234-4438 or send [email protected]
The Star's Summer Harlow contributed to this report.
How to help
Anyone interested in helping find homes for the cats Bee Etta Harkins cared for can send an e-mail to [email protected]
or [email protected]