Alleged Distracted Driver Charged With Misdemeanor In Runner's Death
Four months ago, a leader in the metro running community was struck and killed by a driver near Lake Overholser.
That driver who admitted to being distracted by his cell phone is facing only a misdemeanor charge.
Joe Warfield, 65, was with friends at his favorite running spot when he was hit and killed November 16. Police said the driver didn't stop until he was flagged down.
“To take a life and for it to only be a misdemeanor is just hard,” Joe’s son Brian Warfield said. “The running community needs to know that they're safe.”
According to court documents, 40-year-old Kyle Dover was driving near Lake Overholser when "he looked down at his phone" and “heard a loud noise like he possibly hit something."
The police report said after he looked up, he noticed his passenger side mirror was damaged, but “assumed he hit a sign” and kept driving.
Dover was flagged down by an onlooker and called police.
Brian said his father was in the middle of a 10-mile run around the lake.
“There’s a stretch on the northwest side where there’s no shoulder and there’s no running trail. About 5 miles in he was hit by a car a truck,” he said.
“It's difficult for us,” Brain said. “We did our own research. We looked at the 2015 texting and driving law and for some reason that doesn't apply.”
Dover is facing a misdemeanor negligent homicide charge which carries a maximum punishment of a year in county jail and a $1,000 fine, according to Brian.
He said Joe’s family had requested the district attorney pursue manslaughter charges.
The Canadian County District Attorney's office said they're unable to comment on pending charges.
“We want other families to be aware that this is a possibility,” Brian said. “We learned that manslaughter has been on the books since statehood. And the negligent homicide has been more recent.”
Joe had two children and seven grandchildren. His son said he ran 57 marathons.
Now Brian hopes people learn from his father's death so that he did not die in vain.
“Our culture can change around distracted driving,” he said. “The consequences are just as deadly whether you are sending a text message… fiddling with the radio or you're drinking and driving all of that the consequences are the same.”