Smithville man hit by alleged drunk driver faces long road to recovery: ‘That one hurt’

Kaedon Phalp and his best friend, Hunter Hall, were trying to be Good Samaritans one spring evening in May, when they pulled over to help another driver on the side of the road. What they didn’t know, as they tried to help the driver out of a ditch near Weston, was that their lives were about to change.

As the pair were attempting to help the driver, Phalp, 20, was struck by an alleged drunk driver. Now, months later, Phalp is still trying to recover from extensive injuries, as he awaits some measure of justice in court.

“Yeah, getting hit by that car was something. That one hurt. A lot,” Phalp told The Star.

A good deed, a life-altering moment

On the evening of May 18, Phalp and Hall pulled over in Phalp’s Ford F250 near H Highway in Platte County to assist another motorist stuck in a ditch.

The two men first noticed something was wrong when a red Toyota crested the hill at a high rate of speed. They tried to get the driver to stop, Hall said. When the car didn’t slow down, Phalp and Hall both dove for cover. Hall jumped into a ditch, and Phalp tried to escape into his truck. Phalp was halfway into his truck when he was hit head-on.

“Kaedon was laying in the street,” Hall said. “He was yelling, ‘help, help I’m hurt, Hunter I’m hurt.’ I walked over and put my hand on him and then I took off running.”

Hall sprinted up the road for help, as Phalp lay in the road, unable to move. After crashing into Phalp’s truck, the red Toyota “parked like nothing had happened,” Hall said.

“I couldn’t move my legs, especially my left one,” Phalp said. “My legs were just destroyed.”

The man the pair initially stopped to assist put a belt around Phalp’s leg in an attempt to stop the bleeding, Hall said.

The man who allegedly hit Phalp, identified as Gabriel Carey, 20, of West Des Moines, Iowa, prayed with Phalp on the road, but Phalp said the details of their conversation were hazy. When an officer arrived at the scene, Carey was immediately taken to undergo a sobriety test, Hall said.

“It was one of those dumbfounded moments where he looks at the breathalyzer and shows it to him,” Hall said. “He’s like, ‘Do you know what the legal limit is?’ And immediately just told him to turn around and put him in the car.”

Carey allegedly had a blood alcohol content of 0.138, nearly seven times the legal limit for someone under the age of 21 during a breathalyzer test, according to a probable cause affidavit.

The driver told police he had attended a wedding reception prior to the crash, at which he said he consumed around four to five beers, according to the probable cause affidavit. The driver said he believed he drank for nearly six hours, from 4:45 to 10:30. However, the crash occurred around 9:40.

Phalp sustained a right femur fracture, multiple pelvic fractures, a dislocated knee, a broken tibia, nerve damage and a torn PCL, MCL and ACL in his left leg, on top of other internal injuries, a GoFundMe set up by Hall’s sister, Amanda Eichinger, said. Phalp spent nearly a week in ICU at a local hospital.

“It was a day by day kind of take,” Hall said. “You’d show up one day and he’d be closer to his normal self, I mean as close as you can be for where you’re at, the next day he’d have another surgery and be out for the count for a little bit.”

‘If you met Kaedon, you loved Kaedon’

Kaedon Phalp graduated from Smithville High School in 2022, according to the GoFundMe.

“There may have been people that didn’t like me, but there’s not a single person that hasn’t liked Kaedon,” Hall said. “If you met Kaedon, you loved Kaedon. He didn’t really have anybody who wasn’t friends with him, he was just friends with everybody.”

After graduating, Phalp worked to put himself through welding school, according to the GoFundMe. He was working around 60 hours a week at the time of the accident, he said.

“I’m always trying to be go, go, go, go, go, and keep busy,” Phalp said. “And now, sit, sit, sit, sit, sit. It’s very different from what I’m used to.”

Phalp was living in an apartment with a few friends before the crash, and was excited to be welding out “in the real world,” he said.

“To know Kaedon is to love him,” the GoFundMe said. “Kaedon is the kind of person that would give you the shirt off his back, always willing to lend a helping hand.”

Even in the hospital, Phalp has made friends with his nurses and other residents on his floor. A sign in his room, written by a nurse, read “Welcome back!”

“There’s not one that I don’t know. Some of them are like friends,” Phalp said.

Carey was charged with felony driving while intoxicated, according to an arrest warrant. He pleaded not guilty on June 4, according to court documents.

“It makes you feel shitty, that’s about all I’ve really got to say,” Phalp said.

County prosecutors told Hall’s sister, Amanda Eichinger, that the case could go on for one to three years.

“I’ve called a lot of attorneys, and from what it sounds like, it’s pretty normal in a situation like this for them to try to plead not guilty,” Eichinger said. “But at the same time, he is on all counts trying to get off.”

The first hearing in the case will not be held until August, according to court docket entries.

The road to recovery

Meanwhile, Phalp has undergone nine surgeries and has two more scheduled, he said. He has been in the hospital since the incident occurred in May.

“It took a lot of getting used to and stuff like that, but I’ve got a lot of good people that are standing behind me and supporting me. So it makes it a little easier to be stuck in here.”

Phalp hasn’t been able to bear any weight on his leg since the accident, and has dealt with various infections, he said. As soon as Phalp starts to feel better after a surgery, he is almost immediately rushed into a new one, he said.

In the hospital, Phalp has been building Legos and playing games like Crazy Eights to keep busy. He also enjoys hanging out with friends, including Hall, who try to keep his environment “as normal as it used to be.”

“To be honest, just trying to keep myself distracted I guess,” Phalp said. “I guess just having friends in here and stuff like that and just trying to keep my mind off of it. Sometimes it gets to me, I’ll be honest. Sometimes I do get upset. I try and surround myself with good people in here and that helps a lot.”

Phalp said the support he’s received has been “more than you could ever imagine.”

The GoFundMe for Phalp’s medical and legal costs was set up in an effort to help Phalp with the financial burdens he’s facing now and in the future once he leaves the hospital.

Phalp won’t be able to go back to his apartment due to his injuries, but also knows he won’t be able to move around his mom’s house in his wheelchair. The family is trying to find a rehab center Phalp can stay in until he can use crutches, he said.

Despite the wreck, Phalp said he’s still looking to the future. He hopes to eventually return to welding.

His friend’s sister knows that as tragic as the crash was, it all could have ended very differently.

“This could have been so much worse than it already is,” Eichinger said.


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