Archive for Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Injury accident prompts call for signal

May 11, 2005

An intersection notorious for traffic accidents added one more to its list Monday afternoon.

About 2:15 p.m. at U.S. Highway 24-40 and Main Street, two vehicles collided at the intersection, sending area residents to hospitals.

The accident occurred as Andrew L. Durkes II, 46, McLouth, was heading east on the highway when another vehicle, driven by Jessica J. Schmidt, 23, Tonganoxie, pulled out into the intersection, trying to turn left onto the highway from Main Street.

"I've seen so many accidents, and now I'm in one," Durkes said, referring to the intersection.

Schmidt and her 5-week-old child, Annakan, were taken to the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kan. Annakan was in a car seat in the back seat of her car. Another passenger, 5-year-old Tony Rodriguez, who police thought was Schmidt's son, was sitting in the front seat. He was taken by air ambulance to Children's Mercy Hospital. An hospital official said Tuesday that Rodriguez no longer was a patient at the hospital.

Durkes was wearing a seat belt and had cuts on his right hand and said his chest hurt. His wife took him to Lawrence Memorial Hospital as a precautionary measure. The McLouth resident was lucky he wasn't injured more severely. His car had a loose speaker in the back window. When the car collided with Schmidt's vehicle, the speaker came through the front windshield -- on the passenger's side.

"That's a weapon of death," Durkes said.

It was Durkes' understanding that everyone in the other vehicle also was wearing a seat belt.

Durkes, who frequently commutes on 24-40 to work in Kansas City, said the accident reinforced the need for traffic controls at the intersection.

"They really need a stop light here bad," Durkes said.

Tonganoxie Mayor Dave Taylor, who was on the scene after the accident occurred, agreed.

"I always felt they put the light in the wrong intersection," Taylor said.

In recent years, a stoplight was installed at the intersection of Northstar Road and 24-40, at the entrance to Tonganoxie High School.

After Monday's accident, Taylor said he hopes the city can once again evaluate the busy intersection to the east.

"It's just a dangerous intersection and I hope that we can really look into it and do something instead of just talking," Taylor said. "It seems like that's what we do is just talk. I'd like to see some action."

After the accident, Taylor asked City Administrator Mike Yanez to obtain accident statistics at the intersection from the police and fire departments.

Tonganoxie Fire Chief Dave Bennett said Tuesday that during the last two years, his department has been called to 10 accidents at the intersection.

But there have been other accidents along 24-40.

He said another six or seven have occurred at the next intersection to the east at Ridge near B&J Country Mart and Mo's Pizza. Bennett noted two more accidents in the 1200 block of 24-40 near Vet-Vax and two more at Laming Road and additional two at Village Terrace.

Bennett said most accidents occur at peak times -- in the morning as people are heading to work, and in the evening when people are returning from work, usually between 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

"It's kind of weird to talk about rush hour in Tonganoxie," Bennett said.

But with an increased number of Tonganoxie residents comes more traffic, Bennett said.

"The last two years it's been a very active stretch of road for us," Bennett said.

At an upcoming council meeting, the traffic topic likely will be on the agenda.

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