A mother’s fight for justice: ‘He still has to face me’

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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. – A grieving mother says she was denied justice after spending four days in Jefferson County, which was a trip that she hoped would give her closure.

Savannah McCreary, 28, died in a rollover crash on I-55 in Festus in April.

The mother of McCreary, Krista Zumsteg-Kalpakoff, spoke out about the recent twist that spared a former sheriff’s deputy from felony charges.

“I want him to see me and look me in the eye,” she said.

Zumsteg-Kalpakoff did not get that chance when a preliminary hearing set for Thursday was canceled after felony charges were dropped.

She described her daughter as “so outgoing and positive.”

“She was my best friend,” Zumsteg-Kalpakoff said.

The reported driver, Colby McCreary, was a Jefferson County sheriff’s deputy at the time. He has since been fired. He’s also the son of De Soto’s police chief.

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When questioned about the police investigation in June, Festus’ police chief, Doug Wendel, said the conditions on scene were such that they could not perform field sobriety testing.

“It was not possible, nor did the officers have a reason to believe they needed to do any field sobriety testing,” Wendel said. “At no point in time was this ever intended to be any type of cover-up or mislead anybody.”

He said he did later call-in highway patrol, which reported in court records that McCreary was driving at 87 mph with a blood alcohol level of .17, more than twice the legal limit.

That led to felony charges in June for DWI resulting in the death of another and involuntary manslaughter.

Then, just last week, another twist arrived in the form of a two-page news release from the Jefferson County prosecutor announcing the felonies would be dropped.

The prosecutor statement said that a witness reported Savannah McCreary mooning another vehicle before the crash and that the vehicle event data recorder measured an extreme shift in weight and an abrupt turn of the steering wheel before impact.

“How do you blame an accident on a passenger?” Zumsteg-Kalpakoff said. “If you are driving that car, you are responsible for that car and for everybody in that car.”

Jefferson County Prosecutor Trisha Stefanski said her office is not blaming anyone. She noted they would have to prove four elements for a conviction and the accident reconstruction investigation made it clear they could not prove this element.

Stefanski said the latest findings showed two things. The first being that the accident reconstructionist would testify that the crash would have happened despite McCreary’s speed. The second is that she couldn’t ethically proceed with a charge that prosecutors no longer believed could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

“I applaud the prosecutor for a careful review of all of the evidence. She courageously did the right thing,” McCreary’s attorney, Travis Noble, said.

Zumsteg-Kalpakoff says she’s not done fighting for her daughter’s memory. She met with Mothers Against Drunk Driving to see if the Attorney General could step in.

Meanwhile, driver Colby McCreary still faces a misdemeanor DWI charge, for which he’s scheduled for a plea hearing in late February.

“I will still be there,” Zumsteg-Kalpakoff said. “He still has to face me.”


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