Man injured in hit-and-run accident looking for answers

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A reward is being offered in the case of a Fort Scott man who was the victim in a reported hit-and-run accident involving a bicycle the morning of Jan. 28 on Jayhawk Road south of Fort Scott.

Kirk Hart, 61, who was involved in the accident, told the Tribune Monday he is offering a $500 reward "for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual(s) responsible in the hit-and-run accident of a bicyclist on Jan. 28 on Jayhawk Road."

The notice Hart sent the Tribune also states anyone with information on the incident should call the Bourbon County Sheriff's Office at (620) 223-1440.

Hart is the principal and sixth grade teacher of Hume High School in Hume, Mo.

Hart said Monday the offer of the reward is "not about a grudge or revenge" but just to seek answers about why the incident occurred.

"I'd just like to have somebody explain to me, if they could, 'Why did you leave me in the ditch?'" Hart said. "My goal is not to see somebody behind bars, if I could just get the answer."

Hart said he was observing all of the proper rules for bicycling the morning of the incident.

"I was as far to the right as possible. I had my lights on," he said.

Bourbon County Sheriff Bill Martin said Monday his office still has no leads or further information in the case. He said Jan. 28 that an investigation has not turned up any details on the vehicle that struck Hart and fled.

"It's an open investigation," Martin said.

The incident involved an unknown vehicle striking Hart on his bicycle and then fleeing the scene, according to a BCSO news release. Martin has said emergency responders received a call on the incident about 5:40 a.m. Jan. 28.

Hart was riding his bike westbound in the 2100 block of Jayhawk Road when an unknown vehicle struck him, throwing him from the bike into the north ditch where he lay until emergency personnel arrived on scene, the news release said.

Martin has said a passerby found Hart and called authorities. He said Jan. 28 that the vehicle was "possibly westbound because the bike was traveling that way and there was damage to the backside of the bike, which leads us to believe the vehicle came up from behind him."

The BCSO news release said Hart was transported by Mercy EMS to Mercy Hospital Fort Scott and taken from there by medical helicopter to a hospital in Joplin, Mo., with internal injuries.

Hart said Monday he has been out of the hospital about a week and is home recovering from injuries suffered in the incident. He said he is "in pretty good shape now" but the outcome could have been different.

"I've been put through pain and so has my wife," he said. "It's changed our life right now. Hopefully, it's not a long-term effect, but it sure could have been."

Hart said he "doesn't remember anything of the accident." The local resident said he typically goes for a morning bike ride "every day but Sunday" prior to heading to work and starting his day.

"I couldn't tell if it was a truck, a car or a moped, or what," he said. "I was leaving my house and riding. That's the time I use, where my mind goes to different aspects of my day. It's a good time to think and commune with myself ... it gets me pumped up, it's good exercise and I can go enjoy the day."

Hart said he is hoping the incident will bring awareness in the community, as he knows of several people who jog or bike in the early morning hours to start their day.

"Maybe this will wake somebody up to the fact that it can happen," he said.