A Topeka truck driver suffered a severe head injury when he was thrown from his cab after his rig crashed through a concrete barrier and flipped over Monday afternoon near Lawrence on the Kansas Turnpike.
James F. Barkley, 47, the driver, was listed in critical condition this morning at the Kansas University Medical Center, Kansas City, Kan., where he was taken by Life Flight helicopter after the accident.
The accident occurred at 2:40 p.m. Monday, about a mile west of the West Lawrence Interchange.
A Kansas Turnpike Authority dispatcher said this morning that Barkley was headed west when the International Harvester rig he was driving drifted off the right side of the road and struck an abandoned car.
The dispatcher said Barkley veered to the left. The rig's trailer broke away from the tractor and slid down the west lane.
The tractor overturned and crashed through the median barrier, knocking out six sections of concrete barrier.
The tractor then flipped back onto its wheels and came to rest upright in the eastbound lanes. The trailer stopped in the westbound lane, blocking the shoulder, the driving lane and part of the passing lane.
A piece of debris struck the windshield of a car driven east by Michael C. Cooper, 36, Topeka. Cooper, who was driving a rented 1991 Oldsmobile, veered into the ditch and then steered back onto the turnpike. He was not injured.
Officers blocked traffic for about 15 minutes in both the eastbound and westbound lanes, the dispatcher said. After that, traffic was channeled through one eastbound and one westbound lane.
Douglas County Ambulance Service workers were called to the scene and treated Barkley until the helicopter arrived. The dispatcher said Barkley suffered internal injuries in addition to the head injury.
The dispatcher that because officers were unable to interview Barkley, they don't know what caused him to drift off the road. The truck was owned by Jayhawk Beverage Inc. of Topeka.