Mishap claims two
A De Soto couple died Tuesday evening after their semi truck crashed through the Wyandotte Street bridge guardrail and plunged 65 feet to the Kansas River below.
The couple, Bradley Umholtz, 48, and Brenda Umholtz, 45, were residents of Clearview City. A Johnson County Sheriff Department statement said the fatal accident occurred about 8:20 p.m. when the southbound truck crossed the center line, took out about 50 feet of the east guardrail and left the bridge. The accident remains under investigation.
De Soto Fire Chief Kevin Ritter said the De Soto Volunteer Fire Department received aid from Johnson County Rural Fire District No. 3, the Olathe, Overland Park, and Lenexa fire departments and the Overland Park Police Department.
The sheriff's statement said the couple died at the scene. Ritter said the husband was still alive when the Overland Park dive team reached the truck. The bodies were recovered during the night, he said.
The bridge was closed Wednesday morning to remove the truck from the river. It was not hauling a trailer.
The couple were residents of Clearview City and worked as over-the-road truckers, said Clearview City office manager Karen Sundquist. Their daughter Sarah Umholtz and three grandchildren also live in the apartment complex.
"They were a very close family," Sundquist said. "They were fortunate to have two apartments next to each other.
"They were on their way to meet Sarah at Pizza Hut. She went looking for them when they were late and discovered the accident."
The couple worked at Sunflower Quarry before starting as over-the-road truckers about three years ago, Sundquist said.
"They were a wonderful couple," she said. "She always had a smile on her face."
The Clearview City community was attempting to comfort and provide for the couple's daughter and grandchildren, Sundquist said. A memorial fund would be established at the De Soto State Bank, and donation boxes have been placed at Clearview City locations, she said. Food items were also being accepted, she said.
For more information, call 583-1451.