WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The family of a Wichita man who died in a hit-and-run crash last month is asking for the driver to come forward.
Kurt Krueger was walking in the 7900 block of W. Cottontail, a side street near Central and Ridge Road, on May 1 when a vehicle hit him. On Wednesday, Crime Stoppers announced the reward in the case has climbed to $7,500 thanks to $5,000 from an anonymous donor.
On Thursday, Krueger’s sisters and other family and friends gathered for his funeral service at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in west Wichita. Afterward, they held a vigil and asked for “Justice for Kurt.”
“We don’t want vengeance. We want justice and accountability for the person that was able to leave the scene and not take care of our brother,” his sister, Mary Krueger, said.
“This tragedy will happen again because a soul that can walk away is a soul that can do this again,” she said.
“This is not a hateful mission to find out who did this, but it will certainly bring some closure to this family, mend our hearts and help us go on in life without our precious Kurt,” said his cousin Michelle Fuson.
Kurt Krueger would have turned 50 in December. That’s when his family was planning a big celebration and reunion. Instead, the reunion was at his funeral. The family members say he was a wonderful man who would help anyone.
“He was one of the most generous people you will ever meet, never ever thinking of himself, always thinking of others and what they needed, taking care of people, taking care of neighbors,” Mary Krueger said. “I’ve had people coming up to me since I’ve been in town since last week in his neighborhood and telling me, ‘Oh, my God, Kurt, he was so important to this neighborhood. Everybody loved him.'”
She and the other sisters are worried about the people who live in the neighborhood.
“This happened in a neighborhood that had been so tight-knit for so long,” Mary Krueger said. “Cottontail Lane has become a thoroughfare, and people go on that road to try to skip Central when they’re drinking and driving, or they want to get away from the police, and something needs to be done to take care of people. There’s no sidewalks on that block. There’s no speed bumps on that block, and that might not be a bad idea for the community to get together and think about.”
Kurt Krueger’s friends say he loved to have a good time, and his favorite vehicle was a 1966 Plymouth Barracuda Sport, a car he drove for 35 years. So his friends made sure the car was part of Thursday’s gathering.
“Oh, this is a symbol of Kurt right here,” his friend Naython Williams said. “I can’t tell you how many good times we have had in this car in high school, college in Lawrence, going to KU, driving this thing around Lawrence.”
“This car has been all over, and this car symbolizes Kurt’s lust for freedom,” he said.
As the service ended Thursday, and people walked outside the church, an announcer said:
“As we leave, we hope the roar of that engine will fuel good thoughts about our dear Kurt in each of your minds … Life is precious. It can all change at the blink of an eye.”