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SPOTLIGHT
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Woman's family faults sheriff's office, teen's father in fatal wrong-way crash

Published on -7/16/2014, 10:42 AM

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By Tim Potter

The Wichita Eagle

(MCT) The family of one of the women killed in a collision with a 16-year-old who drove the wrong way on K-254 -- after allegedly telling a deputy that he took LSD -- is blaming the Butler County Sheriff's Office and the teen's father.

The criticism came Tuesday, a day after Butler County Sheriff Kelly Herzet disclosed that 16-year-old Dominic Stolfi had told a deputy about three hours before the collision that he had taken LSD.

Herzet reiterated Tuesday that his deputies didn't have cause to arrest the teen, who was released to his father after deputies were called to a disturbance at a Benton-area residence. The teen's father, Eric Stolfi, has said that he took steps to keep his son safe and made sure he was asleep about an hour before the collision. Somehow, his son found keys and took off in a vehicle going the wrong way onto the highway, Eric Stolfi has said. The family's home sits along the highway.

"The kid should have never been released," because he told a deputy he took LSD, said Jacob Allison, boyfriend of Lisa Hardy, a 27-year-old Potwin woman who died in the two-vehicle collision early Sunday morning just west of the Butler County line. The crash also killed Hardy's passenger, Nancy Ross, 52, of Potwin, and Dominic Stolfi. On Tuesday, the women's families said the two had been friends and were returning from the Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane when the collision occurred at about 6 a.m. Sunday. Ross was a night owl, according to her family.

The teen should have been taken to a hospital or booked into jail, Allison said. He and Hardy have a son who is about to turn 2. "It's their (deputies') job to make sure everyone is safe," Allison said. "All this happened because of pure negligence. I blame the sheriff's department, and I blame the kid's family."

Hardy's sister, Peggy Woods, said she faults not only the Sheriff's Office and the teen's father. "I fault whoever gave that (drug) to him. He was a 16-year-old child. At 16, you don't know about drugs, especially drugs like that," Woods said. LSD can cause powerful hallucinations.

"I just hope somebody learns something from this," she said.

Eric Stolfi did not want to comment Tuesday.

His son, who was going into his junior year at Circle High School, was driving a Ford Explorer west in eastbound lanes when the Ford collided with an eastbound Buick driven by Hardy, the Kansas Highway Patrol said.

On Tuesday Herzet again explained his office's handling of Sunday's events.

The deputies had responded to a report of a disturbance involving another 16-year-old who, according to deputies, had become extremely agitated after allegedly taking LSD.

Deputies dealing with the other teenager found Dominic Stolfi in a basement, in his underwear. He told a deputy he had taken the drug, Herzet said.

The sheriff said the teen's father was called to the house where the disturbance occurred. Herzet said Eric Stolfi requested that he be permitted to take his son to the hospital himself and that emergency medical personnel also discussed the situation with the father, who ultimately refused permission for EMS to transport for his son to a hospital.

On Monday, Eric Stolfi disagreed that he refused to let EMS take his son.

Herzet said Dominic Stolfi seemed calm compared with the other 16-year-old, who was taken by EMS to a hospital. The other teen's family couldn't be reached for comment.

As for Dominic Stolfi, Herzet said, "we released him to his father," and deputies thought the father was taking his son to the hospital. Only after the accident did deputies learn that the father and son had not gone to the hospital, Herzet said.

On Tuesday, Herzet said that his office has sent paperwork to the county attorney's office requesting prosecution of the other 16-year-old. The Sheriff's Office has asked that the teen be prosecuted for possession of a hallucinogenic drug and possession of paraphernalia, Herzet said.

Investigators have taken as evidence blotter paper, which can contain drugs, and what is thought to be LSD, Herzet said. The substance will be sent to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation for analysis.

The Sheriff's Office hasn't seen LSD in Butler County for more than 10 years, Herzet said.

Lisa Hardy and Nancy Ross -- the two women who were killed -- "had a very close relationship," said Allison, who is Hardy's boyfriend and the father of their young son.

Hardy called Ross "Mom." Ross was the paternal grandmother and a main caregiver for Hardy's other child, a 5-year-old daughter, who lived with Ross.

Hardy was a stay-at-home mother who grew up mostly in western Kansas. "She was a go-getter. She was a very happy woman. She had a huge heart," Allison said.

Ross's mother, Virginia McCoy, said Ross grew up in Whitewater, graduated from Remington High School, attended Kansas State University for a couple of years, and became a licensed practical nurse. She had cared for mentally disabled people and had been a foster mother, McCoy said.

Ross's husband, Charles, died from a sudden illness two years ago. She was on disability because of severe diabetes and had lost part of her right foot, McCoy said. Still, Ross managed to care for her young granddaughter. She had been planning a pool party for the child, McCoy said, choking back tears.

The 5-year-old seems to be coping with the death of her grandmother, McCoy said. "She says, 'My Grandma's the best grandma in the world, and when I get big, I'm going to be the best grandma in the world,'" McCoy said.

Ross "truly believed in prayer," and knowing that she had such faith is a comfort to the family, McCoy said.

Ross's older brother, Mike McCoy, said he also wanted to acknowledge the Stolfi family.

"The Stolfi family suffered a terrible loss, and they have my condolences, too," Mike McCoy said.

"It's a rotten situation all the way around."

(c)2014 The Wichita Eagle

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