Nathan Pena took a week off from work and headed west in his new Subaru last week to visit friends in Missouri and Colorado. The 19-year-old Brookfield resident’s trip, however, abruptly ended at about 2 p.m. on Sept. 30 when a man reportedly fleeing in a Chevy Tahoe performed a U-turn on Interstate 70 just west of Kansas City and slammed into Pena’s car, killing him.
The alleged offender, identified as 29-year-old Anthony J. Dorsey, of Kansas City, has been charged with first-degree murder and fleeing and eluding police, according to published reports.
At the time of the crash, Dorsey was listed by the Kansas Department of Corrections as having “absconded” from parole after serving about five years for aggravated robbery.
“We’re heartbroken,” said John Pena, who is Nathan’s grandfather in a phone interview Wednesday. “It’s such a huge hole. Too many dreams. It’s not supposed to be like this.”
According to Capt. Joe Bott of the Kansas Highway Patrol, a state trooper attempted to pull over Dorsey’s vehicle, because it had expired plates. Dorsey, who has been wanted on a warrant for absconding since November 2017, attempted to flee from police, did a U-turn while approaching a toll plaza and sped the wrong way in Pena’s direction.
According to Bott, Pena drove into a ditch to avoid Dorsey, but the Tahoe also swerved in that direction and collided with the Subaru there. Pena reportedly was pronounced dead at the scene. Dorsey was not seriously injured.
Pena’s mother, Jen Pena, said her son was excited about taking his new car on a road trip to Boulder, Colorado, to see friends. Last year after graduating from Lyons Township High School, where he was a member of the track and cross-country teams, Pena and three friends had made a similar road trip out west.
According to his mom, Pena one day hoped to live in Colorado. Jen and Alex Pena took their children, Nathan and Lauren, to Colorado almost every year to visit relatives.
“He loved the outdoors and just started hunting with his dad and uncle,” Jen Pena said.
Nathan Pena lived in LaGrange and attended Cossitt School before the family moved to Brookfield about five years ago. In addition to being an athlete at LTHS, Pena volunteered several times with the Appalachia Service Project through First United Methodist Church in LaGrange, helping rebuild homes in Appalachia.
“He was the sweetest kid you could ever meet,” said his grandfather, John Pena. “He always filled the room.”
Jena Pena said Nathan was known around the neighborhood as the Ferris Bueller of the town.
“Everyone knew him,” she said. “He always had a smile on his face and was willing to help someone.”
Visitation will be on Saturday, Oct. 5 from noon to 6 p.m. at Hitzeman Funeral Home, 9445 31st St. in Brookfield. A funeral service will be held Sunday, Oct. 6 at 3 p.m. at First United Methodist Church of LaGrange, 100 W. Cossitt Ave., LaGrange. Interment is private.
Memorial donations are appreciated to A Tribute to Nathan Pena, a GoFundMe fundraiser that has been started on behalf of Nathan’s family.