A 31-year-old Lawrence man was killed this morning in a two-vehicle accident northwest of Lawrence on U.S. Highway 24-59.
David Johnson, a truck driver for NR Hamm Cos., was killed in the accident, which occurred shortly before 8 a.m. today about one mile west of the Douglas-Jefferson County line, between Midland Junction and Williamstown.
According to a dispatcher for the Kansas Highway Patrol, officers believe the accident occurred after a minivan driven east by Robert Cerneca, Kansas City, Kan., went left of the center line and struck Johnson's truck head-on. Johnson was pulling a flatbed trailer carrying a front-end loader, the dispatcher said. The loader shifted after impact and pushed into the cab of the truck, killing Johnson. He was declared dead at the scene.
Johnson, who had worked for Hamm for four years, was the son of former Douglas County Sheriff Rex Johnson and his wife, Shirley.
Cerneca was taken by helicopter to the Kansas University Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan. Because not all of his family members had been notified about the accident, the medical center would release no information on his condition.
Rescue officials worked at the accident scene for about two hours to remove Cerneca from the Dodge minivan. The front of the van was so heavily damaged that paramedics and other emergency personnel had difficulty freeing Cerneca's left leg, according to Rob Kort, paramedic supervisor for Douglas County Ambulance Service.
Kort said DCAS arrived at the scene at 8:06 a.m. and a LifeFlight helicopter lifted off at 10:15 a.m. to transport Cerneca to the medical center.
"I've been here for a long time," Kort said. "It was definitely the worst extrication, as far as difficulty, I have been on."