KC MO Firefighter Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter in Fatal Apparatus Accident

The driver of a Kansas City pumper that killed three people in 2021, has pled guilty today to three counts of involuntary manslaughter. Dominic Biscari was driving Pumper 19, when it ran a red light, collided with an SUV, struck several parked cars, and came to rest in a building.

Killed in the December 15, 2021 crash were Tami Knight, Jennifer San Nicholas, and Michael Elwood. The accident prompted four civil suits against the city, three of which have been settled.

Biscari was accused of speeding (51 in a 35 mph zone) at the time he ran the red light. The intersection was known to be dangerous, and there was a question about whether Pumper 19 was aware they had been cancelled from the alarm. Here is more on that part of the story from Fox4 News.

LocalToday quoted a statement issued by Jackson County Attorney Jean Peters Baker as saying:

  • Our office and community offer our deepest condolences to these families.
  • Although this plea will not restore her life or heal her grief, it does show a degree of accountability for the actions of the firefighter who has performed a public duty.
  • We also hope that this will further motivate a review of the best and safest practices for operating public vehicles. Our community needs more care.

The Kansas City Star quoted from Biscari’s attorney Kevin Regan, stating:

  • [Biscari] expressed his regret, sorry, sympathy, and concern to the victims’ families privately.
  • [He] made a mistake in judgment… but…
  • Other drivers in the area heard the fire truck sirens and pulled over to stop safely

Regan also pointed out the existence of systems the city could have installed to give control of intersections to emergency vehicles; that the intersection was known to be dangerous; that driver training was not adequate; and that Biscari was not aware that months prior to the crash a medic had reported his unsafe driving to superiors. Again, quoting from the The Kansas City Star, Attorney Regan said:

  • Dominic was never made aware of that report, or given a chance to give his side of the story.
  • Moreover, prior to the accident, neither the City nor Fire Department conducted an investigation or undertook corrective or remedial actions.

As part of the plea deal, Biscari has been sentenced to three years of probation, is prohibited from possessing a firearm, and must perform 40 hours of community service. He remains suspended without pay from the department and owes the victims families $40 million in damages.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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