FLORENCE A Lawrence couple were killed and a Kansas University student from Paraguay suffered critical injuries Thursday afternoon in a fiery auto collision about nine miles east of here.
A Kansas Highway Patrol dispatcher identified the fatality victims as Ricardo Recalde, 49, and Emma Estigarridia, 49. The student, Jorge Fretes, 23, was air-lifted to St. Francis Hospital, Topeka, where he remained this morning.
The dispatcher said Recalde was eastbound on U.S. Highway 50 at 1:50 p.m. when the 1991 Dodge Dynasty he was driving went left of the center line and struck the fuel tank of a westbound tractor-trailer rig.
The truck burst into flames.
Recalde and Estigarridia, who had to be extricated from the car, were pronounced dead at the scene. The truck driver was not hurt.
A spokeswoman at St. Francis confirmed this morning that Fretes was being treated there but refused to release his condition. She said that under a hospital policy, a patient's condition remains private unless a family member allows it to be released.
She said hospital officials were trying to find a family member of Fretes.
A Chase County sheriff's dispatcher said this morning that deputies were told by hospital officials that Fretes was in critical condition.
Jim Stinson, international student admission officer at KU, said this morning that Fretes had lived in Lawrence for more than a year since coming here from Paraguay.
An employee of Carlson Funeral Home, Emporia, where the couple's bodies were taken, said the fatality victims had recently immigrated to Lawrence from Paraguay. She said the bodies had been taken to Wichita for forensic examination. No obituary information had been compiled by late this morning.
Highway patrol troopers and Chase County sheriff's officers had little information about the victims. It was also unclear why the car went into the oncoming lanes.
"With two of them being dead and one in critical condition, we may never know," the Chase County dispatcher said.