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Cody Harter

Parents thank strangers who prayed with son who lay dying

The family of a St. Joseph man are thanking drivers who stopped to help and pray with him as he lay dying on a Lee’s Summit highway.

Cody Harter, 23, a member of the Missouri Air National Guard, was fatally stabbed in a road rage incident Saturday near the junction of 291 Highway and Interstate 470 at 7:30 p.m. when he got into a confrontation with the driver of another vehicle.

The family was grateful for the motorists who stopped and tried to help him and made sure he was not alone. Those strangers prayed with Harter as he took his last breaths before first responders arrived.

“My son did not die alone, even though whoever did this you left him out there to die alone,” said Kerri Harter.

His girlfriend, Shleby Berkemeire, also thanked those who were around him praying for him.

“That means the world to me,” she said of the strangers. “Thank you for reaching out. It just makes my heart warm in a dark place right now.”

Police believe that Harter’s argument with the second driver escalated into an altercation.

“It appears our victim was in traffic and involved in some type of altercation with another person in traffic,” Chris Depue, a spokesman for Lee’s Summit Police Department, told ABC News. “Two cars are on the shoulder and [witnesses] saw two men outside those vehicles arguing in what appeared to be a disturbance or a fight.”

The second unidentified person is believed to have stabbed Harter in the chest once before fleeing in his vehicle north on Interstate 471. It is not clear if witnesses provided any description of the suspect or his vehicle.

Drivers alerted police to the area after seeing Harter stumbling into traffic. When officers arrived, they found Harter collapsed on the road with a stab wound to the chest. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Harter was a college student with one semester left before graduation with a degree in engineering. He ran his own lawn care business and enjoyed dirt bikes on the weekends.

Harter was a loadmaster with the Missouri Air National Guard. He did a tour in Iraq and was in Qatar, his mother said. He also helped with the hurricane relief in Houston and Puerto Rico.

 

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