Three people died in two unrelated automobile accidents Tuesday afternoon near Lawrence.
A Linwood couple died and three children were injured in a one-vehicle accident near the Fall Leaf community, about six miles east of Lawrence, and another accident in Baldwin left an 86-year-old Baldwin woman dead.
Leavenworth County Undersheriff Ron Cranor said Douglas P. Guthrie, 31, Linwood, was northbound on a county road near Fall Leaf about 2 p.m. Tuesday when the vehicle he was driving swerved off the right side of the road and struck a utility pole. Guthrie and four others, all from Linwood, were trapped in the car for about 1 1/2 hours while emergency services workers attempted to open the vehicle.
Donna McKnight, 30, Guthrie's fiancee, was pronounced dead at the scene. Guthrie was taken by Life Flight helicopter to the Kansas University Medical Center, Kansas City, Kan., where he died late Tuesday or early today, Cranor said. Three children in the car, Matthew and Jason Guthrie, 6-year-old twins, and Daniel Guthrie, 4, were taken by Life Flight and Life Star helicopters to Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo. The children, who are Guthrie's sons, were listed in fair condition today.
Cranor said investigators don't know what caused Guthrie's vehicle to leave the road.
"High speed could have been a factor, we have no idea," he said. "As far as we know, they were all in seat belts.
South of Lawrence, another woman died in an unrelated accident about 1:50 p.m. in Baldwin.
Elva Ikenberry, 86, Baldwin, was pronounced dead at the scene of an accident at 11th and High streets. Ikenberry reportedly was driving a 1980 Oldsmobile south on 11th when witnesses reported the vehicle suddenly sped up and ran into a ditch, Baldwin Police Chief Steve Butell said.
Authorities are speculating that Ikenberry may have had a heart attack just before the accident. An autopsy was scheduled for this afternoon, said Deputy Douglas County Coroner Laurance Price.