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Firefighters and Detectives Receive Awards at Victims' Rights Lunch


4/30/2024 10:48:00 AM

Firefighters from the Kansas City Fire Department and the Southern Platte Fire Protection District and detectives with the Kansas City Police Department received the 17th Annual Sara Andrasek Memorial Award on April 26. The awards were part of the Platte County Prosecuting Attorney's Office's yearly luncheon held as part of national Crime Victims' Rights Week.

The group was awarded for their attempt to save three children who tragically died in a June 2021 house fire in Platte County and later work to investigate the cause of the fire.

Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd said, "These firefighters rushed into a fire in a valiant attempt to save three children. Sadly, their heroic efforts were unsuccessful, but these brave men and women deserve to be recognized for their service to our community. And must not overlook the outstanding work of the detectives who helped bring to justice the man responsible for the deaths of these children. "Chace Freeman, age 10, and brothers Maxwell and Achilles Hardy, ages 3 and 4, died in the fire on North Avalon Street. Another older child escaped the fire, along with the only adult present, David Hardy. The fire may have started from a torch lighter used to clean his methamphetamine pipes. Hardy, who was the father of Maxwell and Achilles, admitted he had used meth, "crashed hard," and was unconscious when the fire started. He pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree and possession of a controlled substance in connection with the fire and is serving a 10-year prison sentence. 

Hardy's girlfriend, Elizabeth Kennison, also lived in the house and was the mother of one of the children who died. Kennison was at work when the fire occurred, but she knew of Hardy's drug use and had used methamphetamine in the home with the children present on other occasions. She pleaded guilty to misdemeanor child endangerment and was sentenced to two years probation. Chace's father, Michael Freeman, spoke at the luncheon about his son's love for football and the pain of losing his child. More than 120 people gathered to hear his heartfelt words at First Baptist Church of Platte City. It was the largest crowd in the luncheon's history.

The Sara Andrasek Award recipients included: Captain John Ortega and Firefighters Michael Conroy, Tila Rowen, and Trevor Kemp of the Kansas City Fire Department Battalion Chief John Dinneen and Firefighters Joey Clevenger and Daniel Stephan of the Southern Platte Fire Protection District Detectives Bryan Jobe and Naomi Vaughns of the Kansas City Police Department Sara Andrasek's mother, Janet Williams, helped Zahnd present the awards, which are given each year in Andrasek's memory. Sara Andrasek was raped and murdered in 2001 while pregnant with her first child. Zahnd’s office and the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department were in the final stages of preparing a death penalty case against Wayne Dumond when Dumond died while in custody.

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