Accident kills Tonganoxie man
A collision Sunday morning on U.S. Highway 24-40 southwest of Tonganoxie claimed the life of a 41-year-old Tonganoxie man.
Jim Walker died about 11 p.m. Sunday at the University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kan., where he had been taken by helicopter after the accident.
Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Mike Gruber said that a 1984 Ford Bronco driven west by Walker collided about 9:20 a.m. with a semi-tractor trailer truck driven east.
"Physical evidence showed that he (Walker) was from two feet to two and a half feet into the opposing lane of traffic and that he drove into the semi," Gruber said Monday.
Gruber said Walker was thrown from his vehicle, which landed on top of him, but he was not pinned under it. Walker was not wearing a seat belt, Gruber said.
The truck's driver, Lloyd Ballou, 52, Junction City, was wearing a seat belt and was not injured.
Gruber said the truck, owned by Wesco Inc., Norton, was loaded with 40,000 pounds of steel. The overall weight of the truck was 72,000 pounds.
The accident occurred about two miles southwest of Tonganoxie, near the Heartland Community Church of the Nazarene, just as church-goers were beginning to arrive for services.
Tom Saunders, pastor of the church, said about 22 people were at the church at the time of the accident.
"There were three girls who saw the truck come across the road and, at first, they thought it had just had a blowout and had come across on church property," Saunders said.
The Bronco landed south of the church.
"It was upside down," Saunders said. "It looked like it had rolled a few times maybe."
Saunders, who later visited with the driver of the semi, said the driver was shaken by the accident.
"He was kind of taken aback," Saunders said. "He told me that the Bronco had gone left of center and pulled over in front of him."
Because the accident involved a possible fatality and a commercial vehicle, the Kansas Highway Patrol's Critical Accident Highway Response Team carried out a lengthy investigation following the crash.
Sheriff's officers redirected traffic around the accident site. Motorists were diverted to Leavenworth County Road 1 or Honey Creek Road until about 4 p.m., when the vehicles were removed and the road was cleared of debris.