John Foster Courtney Death Leads to Increased Police Presence in the Grove

Categories: Community, Crime
Justin Kramarczyk.jpg
Justin Kramarczyk faces a felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident.
John Foster Courtney, a popular rugby player and 29-year-old south-city resident, lost his life July 4 -- 23 hours after he was struck by a driver speeding through Manchester Road in the popular Grove district.

Witnesses told police that the driver who hit Courtney, Justin Kramarczyk, had been drinking. (Kramarczyk, who fled the scene in his Hyundai, has been charged with one felony count of leaving the scene of an accident.) Witnesses also said he was "driving fast," according to the police investigator's probable cause statement.

As Courtney's death shows, the combination of bars (providing both alcohol and plenty of foot traffic to a place like the Grove) and fast driving (on arterial streets like Manchester) can be deadly to pedestrians.

And the police say they're taking it seriously. Starting today, they're pledging an increased presence in the Grove. As the department wrote in a prepared statement,

Starting tonight, Traffic Enforcement Officers will have an increased presence in The Grove Neighborhood along Manchester especially during the evening/early morning hours when there is the most activity. The Police Department will also be working with local elected officials and the City's Streets Department to discuss traffic signals along Manchester and will determine if any changes need to be made regarding the stop lights. The Police Department also hopes to meet with bar and restaurant owners in the area to see how they can get involved in making our community safer.
And it's not all stick and no carrot. As Kara Bowlin, the spokeswoman for Mayor Francis Slay explains, the city has actually been working to encourage better behavior on the Grove's stretch of Manchester even before Courtney's tragic death.

As she explains, the city has been partnering with the Missouri Department of Transportation (which is actually responsible for that stretch of Manchester) on a project involving precisely that stretch of roadway.

The "Great Streets" initiative has been focused on improving Manchester from Kingshighway to (roughly) Vandeventer, bringing wider sidewalks, lighting and "street furniture." As part of the iniative, Bowlin adds, that stretch of Manchester is going on a "lane diet" -- reducing the number of through lanes on the street.

"Right now," she  explains, "everything is finished but the restriping -- and when the road is restriped, it will bring it down to one lane going in each direction and one turn lane, with parallel parking available on both sides of the street."  The restriping is expected to finish up within the next five days.

That said, as Bowlin points out, there's nothing anyone can do -- the street department or the cops -- if people insist on behaving badly. No amount of traffic devices or "street furniture" can stop a driver who's intent on driving drunk, or leaving a victim behind while he heads home to bed.

"No amount of streetscape or design will eliminate accidents when people are being reckless or irresponsible," she says.

Police and prosecutors are continuing to investigate the case against Kramarcyzk; it will be interesting to see if additional charges are filed as they continue.

Courtney was from Memphis, Missouri. We're hoping to get information about memorial arrangements; if anyone knows more and would like to fill us in, just let us know in the comment section.
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it's clear enough he lived a good quality kind of life. Condolence to his relatives and families may they all have peace of mind.

Dok
Dok

I really want to argue the fact that "we" really don't know if the driver was drunk. The report only states he had been drinking prior to, however the report doesn't indicate how much drinking was seen and how close prior to !    However, the driver had the opportunity to prove he wasn't by staying at the scene of the accident, which he choose not to do, so it really makes it hard to argue that fact.          

Tre
Tre

Actually, we really don't know whether Mr. Kramarczyk "chose" to leave the scene or not.  It seems that nobody has considered the possibility that he didn't realize a person had been hit.

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Tre
Tre

Ms. Fenske, I don't believe that it is fair for you to imply that Mr. Kramarczyk is guilty of driving drunk and knowing that he hit a person when neither have actually been proven in a court of law.  In fact, the police have released very little information regarding the circumstances that led to the accident because it has yet to be verified. 

As if you are privy to such information, you write: 

'That said, as Bowlin points out, there's nothing anyone can do -- the street department or the cops -- if people insist on behaving badly. No amount of traffic devices or "street furniture" can stop a driver who's intent on driving drunk, or leaving a victim behind while he heads home to bed.'

I can't help but wonder why you would choose to play into the emotions of all those who are hurting from such a tragedy.  It is writing such as this that leads to the unfair trial of a person in the court of public opinion.  I sincerely hope that you choose your words a bit more wisely in future pieces.

Sarah Fenske
Sarah Fenske

Hey Tre -- I'm all with you on not rushing to judgment -- but the info about Kramarczyk allegedly drinking and speeding came directly from the police investigator's probable cause statement. We'll stay on this story, and if turns out the police (or the witnesses) lied, we will definitely be all over that. But for now, we have no reason to doubt the assertions made by the officer under oath.

If any witnesses were there that night and have information that suggests the police account is incorrect, please, let us know. We just want to get at the truth of what happened.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Witnesses have confirmed Kramarczyk was drinking prior to the accident and "driving fast" when he hit Courtney. If the news media relied solely on news that comes directly from the court or police, people would complain that there's "not enough details,"  or there wouldn't be any crime news to report, or that the system isn't transparent enough. Witness accounts, the hit-and-run... there's really not that much of a stretch of speculation here. I believe the quote from Bowlin you quoted may not be verbatim according to the quotation marks, but the next one, "No amount of streetscape or design will eliminate accidents when people are being reckless or irresponsible," is and because of that, I don't believe Fenske over-colored Bowlin's original quote.

I keep trying to side with you as far as the "court of public opinion" is concerned in light of the Casey Anthony trial and the media assassination of her character, but I trust the reporting and the fact there's witness accounts over waiting for official police statements, and that leads me to not care about Kramarczyk's character.

Rgardner
Rgardner

Sorry, forgot to add that Funeral Services are Saturday

Rgardner
Rgardner

Correction time of visitation is actually 5:00 to 8:00 on Friday with Masonic Services starting at 8:00 following visitation at  Memphis Funeral Home   378 South Market   Memphis,MO Funeral Service with be 10:00 a.m.. at First Presbyterian Church 201 West Madison Memphis

Lmhoffman
Lmhoffman

Thoughts and prayers to everyone Foster touched, everyone who will miss him, especially family and close friends.

Agleason
Agleason

The Memorial Service will be held on Friday from 5:30-8:30 at Memphis Funeral Home:(378 South Market Street, Memphis, MO 63555-1461)

The funeral service will be Saturday at the First Presbyterian Church(201 West Madison Street, Memphis, MO 63555-1043 - corner of Madison/Clay)

Melody
Melody

The funeral service will be held at 10:00 A.M.

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