Four people dead, one critically injured after an early-morning crash on the Kansas Turnpike.
Four people died, Monday, after an early morning accident on the Kansas Turnpike.
Turnpike officials say at approximately 4:40 am., a red 1995 Chevrolet SUV was traveling northbound in the southbound lanes near milepost 30 when it struck a southbound 2005 Dodge van head-on in the passing lane. The van was then struck from behind by a southbound semi-truck and trailer, overturning the semi onto its right side and completely blocking the roadway.
The SUV and van came to rest in the passing lane, blocking the inside southbound lane.
An earlier report of the SUV traveling in the wrong direction for the Belle Plaine Service Area was reported two minutes before the crash, turnpike officials said.
Four people died in the crash including: driver of the SUV, Gregory Davis, 27; driver of the van, Kyoung Yeaon Chae, 39; and her daughter and son, passengers of the van, 17-year-old Yuna Choi and 9 year-old Seo Won Choi, all of Wichita.
A third passenger, Hanna Choi, 17, of Wichita was critically injured in the crash and was transported to Wesley Medical Center in Wichita. Her twin sister, Yuna, was killed in the crash.
Semi-truck driver Reginald Jones, 37, of Hopkins, S.C., was also transported to Via Christi St. Francis hospital in Wichita, however, he had non-serious injuries, the turnpike reported.
Southbound lanes of I-35 were blocked until around 9:45 a.m., when one passing lane was opened up for traffic. Traffic was re-routed to US 81, which was bumper to bumper traffic during rush hour, Monday morning.
Considerable debris from the vehicles, fuel leakage from the semi-truck and even a fire in the SUV kept emergency workers busy as they tried to clear the scene.
This latest crash is on the heels of another multiple-fatality turnpike wreck that occurred in late February.
Driver Michael Minor, 39, of Sedgwick and passengers Lindsey Slain, 23, Chad Kingsley, 27, and Johnette Grimes, 22, all of Wichita were killed at around 9 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 24 after Minor attempted to make a U-turn between the concrete barriers of the Kansas Turnpike two miles south of the South Haven exit.
Sumner County Sheriff Gerald Gilkey says in order to avoid such tragedies in the future, drivers need to pay attention and now when it is safe to drive.
“One of the most important things is to make sure that you are in the condition to be driving in the first place...if you’ve been driving a long time, make sure you get enough rest, basically an awake driver is a safe driver,” said Gilkey.
If it’s too late and a mistake has been made, the sheriff says the best thing a driver can do is call for help.
“If you find yourself in a bad situation, if you’ve made a bad mistake, just stop. Call 911, have them send help to you. Officers will help you get turned around to where things can be done in a safe manner and you really aren’t taking things into your own hands were you might make another bad judgement call,” said Gilkey.