Archive for Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Police say alcohol played role in recent double-fatality crash

July 26, 2006

Alcohol contributed to an accident that claimed the lives of two 21-year-old Tonganoxie men on July 14 in Lawrence, according to police reports released last week.

Kim Murphree, spokeswoman for the police department, said alcohol -- as well as weather and speed -- contributed to the accident that killed Tonganoxie residents Jacob Wyrick and Benjamin Pickert about 2 a.m. July 14. Wyrick's 2001 Ford Mustang smashed into a semitrailer at 21st and Iowa streets in Lawrence.

Murphree said it's doubtful Lawrence police would release more specifics on how alcohol contributed to the accident.

"The blood-alcohol level is something that is not mandatorily released by us," she said.

Murphree said Wyrick was driving too fast for the conditions, adding that rain and a wet road also contributed to the crash. The speed limit where the accident occurred is 40 mph, but accident reports didn't indicate how fast Wyrick was driving.

In addition, the report did not provide blood-alcohol levels for Wyrick or Pickert. Murphree said a follow-up investigation was pending. Wyrick and Pickert were pronounced dead at the scene.

The young men, who were 2003 Tonganoxie High School graduates, were headed south on Iowa when their vehicle began spinning and smashed into a semitrailer driven by 58-year-old Paul Labourdette, Quebec, Canada, which was headed north. Police said Labourdette had stopped in the street when he saw the Mustang spinning out of control, coming toward him.

All three were wearing seatbelts, according to the newly released accident report.

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