Injury accidents gnarl traffic on three highways: KHP closes K-10 for 6 hours

All lanes of Kansas Highway 10 near Eudora were reopened shortly after 10:15 p.m. after the Kansas Highway Patrol's commercial vehicle accident reconstruction team investigated a serious accident from earlier Thursday afternoon.

The highway was closed for more than six hours.

The accident was just the last of three accidents reported in Douglas County between 3 and 4:15 p.m. Helicopter ambulances were requested for all three. The other two accidents were on the Kansas Turnpike west of Lecompton and on U.S. Highway 24/40 near the Douglas-Leavenworth county line.

In the K-10 accident, a cement mixer blew a tire, causing the driver, identified as 44-year-old Tonganoxie resident Richard Vandruff, to lose control of the vehicle, according to a report from the KHP. Vandruff swerved onto the north shoulder of westbound K-10 before veering back across the lanes onto the median, where the vehicle then rolled before coming to rest on its side. Vandruff was trapped in his truck for more than 30 minutes while Lawrence Douglas County Fire Medical tried to rescue him. He was taken to a regional trauma center for treatment.

K-10 was closed both eastbound and westbound to give emergency officials room to work.

Earlier accidents included a car-motorcycle accident at milemarker 397 on U.S. Highway 24/40, shortly after 3:30 p.m. One person had critical injuries, and at least one other person had sustained unknown, less serious injuries.

According to a report from the Kansas Highway Patrol, the accident occurred when the vehicle in front of the motorcycle stopped suddenly. The driver and passenger on the motorcycle, identified as Manhattan residents Donald H. Burnett, 63, and Doreen H. Burnett, 65, were thrown from the vehicle when Donald attempted to brake.

Donald Burnett was to be taken by LifeStar helicopter to KU Hospital, however another accident was reported at the same time and the helicopter was dispatched to that accident instead. The KHP report lists both patients as being transported to KU Hospital and LMH, respectively. Nursing supervisors at each location had no additional information on the patients' conditions Thursday night. The report states neither patient was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.

The investigation into the accident is pending.

The third accident was reported in the eastbound lanes of the Kansas Turnpike, just west of the Lecompton interchange.

According to a report from the Kansas Turnpike Authority, the first vehicle, driven by 29-year-old Fort Riley resident Eugene Hookano Pok Riddick II, lost control and struck the side of the second vehicle. Both vehicles crossed over all lanes of traffic, with the second vehicle rolling and coming to rest on its passenger side. The driver and passenger in the second vehicle, identified as Florida couple Robert and Joyce Berkoski, were transported to an area hospital with unknown injuries.

Riddick II was also transported to an area hospital after his vehicle came to rest in the south ditch.

A LifeStar helicopter was called to assist in patient transportation. The Turnpike was closed briefly to allow the helicopter to land on the road, but has since reopened.

No additional information regarding the condition of the three injured in the accident was available Thursday evening.

With the K-10 accident, a Hazmat response was also requested, because of spilled fuel and cement on the road. Additional information regarding the cause of the K-10 accident was not immediately available Thursday night. KHP is expected to release a report with the findings of the investigation.

By Andy Hyland, Jonathan Kealing and Joe Preiner

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