‘Live like Rita’: Family grieves after weekend crash kills one, seriously injures two family members


WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Wichita family is grieving following a deadly weekend crash in south Wichita. It happened Saturday at Pawnee and Glenn when police said a suspected drunk driver crossed the center line and hit another car head-on.

Five people were hurt in the crash, and one person died. Carol and Chuck Goodson were two of the people who sustained serious injuries. Rita Hawkins was the woman who died. 

Their family said Hawkins, her sister Carol and brother-in-law Chuck were coming back home from lunch. The family said, while they are thankful the other family members will be okay, they lost their bright light in the family. 

“Rita was very special,” said brother Mike Dowell. 

Rita Hawkins was the oldest of 12. Her brother Mike Dowell said if you were having a bad day, Rita would change that. 

“Anybody she met, whether it was a stranger, a friend, a loved one, she was just a person everybody loved,” said Dowell. “She praised God, and she would always say God is good, yeah he is good, God is good.”

Rita’s niece, Kendra Crawford, said the three things she loved most were babies, fishing, and holidays.

“She’d get all excited, and the holidays were the best for her,” said Crawford. “As soon as someone had a baby, she would be like you’re holding that baby too long, give them to me.”

The family said the hardest part about losing their shining light is that police said the driver, who hit Rita, is suspected to have been driving under the influence. 

“There’s too much of this going on,” said Dowell. “If they knew Rita, they would know that that’s not what the world is supposed to be about.”

While the loss is difficult, both Crawford and Dowell said the one thing that will keep her legacy alive is to live as Rita did. 

“I wished that people could live like Rita, I wish I could live like Rita,” said Dowell. 

“She was an amazing person who overcame so much,” said Crawford.

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