A 74-year-old man has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter for fatally striking a 14-year-old girl with his car while she walked home from a Johnson County middle school.
Sudhir S. Gandhi, of Overland Park, entered the plea in Johnson County District Court on Wednesday. He admitted to the lesser offense of involuntary manslaughter after prosecutors charged him more than three years ago with reckless second-degree murder.
On April 12, 2019, Alexandra “Alex” Rumple was on the sidewalk a few blocks from Oxford Middle School, where students had just been let out for the day.
Gandhi was driving on Switzer Road near 127th Street when he drove up onto the sidewalk and struck Rumple. Witnesses told police Gandhi was traveling at highway speeds at the time of the crash.
Rumple was taken to the hospital, where she later died. Later that night, hundreds of middle-schoolers and parents gathered for a vigil at the middle school’s football field.
During an interview with police, Gandhi said he believed he had pressed on the brake pedal, but the car continued to accelerate, according to court documents.
Not knowing what to do, Gandhi decided to steer the car onto the sidewalk to avoid vehicles stopped in the road. He nearly hit three other children walking down the street that day, according to a police report.
After striking Rumple, Gandhi knocked a traffic light off its base and crashed into a wooden fence, destroying 80 feet of it before coming to a stop in the right lane of Switzer near 121st Street.
A vehicle inspector found no issues with the car’s brakes, steering, suspension or engine throttle control systems, according to court records.
Under the plea Wednesday, Gandhi admitted to a severity level 5 felony under Kansas law. He is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 18.
The Star’s Robert A. Cronkleton and Katie Bernard contributed to this report.