Three people were critically injured in two rollover accidents that occurred minutes apart in the Lawrence area Monday night.
Emergency crews were called about 10:20 p.m. to the first accident, in which an Isuzu sport utility vehicle struck a deer and rolled several times about seven miles east of Lawrence on Kansas Highway 10.
Two helicopters were called to the accident scene, one of which took a critically injured woman to the Kansas University Medical Center, Kansas City, Kan.
The other helicopter took another critically injured woman to Overland Park Regional Medical Center, said Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical Battalion Chief Bill Stark.
A third injured woman was taken by ambulance to Lawrence Memorial Hospital, he said.
It took emergency crews about 30 minutes to free one of the critically injured women from the Isuzu.
About the time the first helicopter was landing -- 10:45 p.m. -- officials were called to another rollover accident at Brook Creek Park near 12th Street in East Lawrence.
It took authorities several minutes to extricate that driver, who also was critically injured. The driver was taken by ambulance to Lawrence Memorial Hospital, where a third helicopter was called to take him to another hospital in the Kansas City area or Topeka.
Additional details about the second accident were not immediately available.
None of the identities of those hurt was available late Monday.
An eyewitness to the first accident, Richard McDonald, 35, said the Isuzu was traveling west on K-10 when it struck a deer and rolled several times, landing in the ditch south of the eastbound lanes.
The eastbound lanes of K-10 were closed to traffic for about 45 minutes. Westbound lanes were closed twice for several minutes so helicopters could land safely.
Stark, a firefighter for 17 years, said it was the first time he could remember that three helicopters had been called to two accidents at the same time in the Lawrence area.
-- Michael Dekker's phone message number is 832-7187. His e-mail address is email@example.com.