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Archive for Wednesday, September 1, 1999

CRASH SURVIVOR REVISITS SCENE

September 1, 1999

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A survivor of the triple-fatal accident Sunday returned to the scene Tuesday as his brother recovered at an area hospital.

On Sunday morning, Neil Jymm climbed from the cab of his friend's mangled truck and found several bodies sprawled around him.

One of the men thrown from the bed of the Chevrolet S-10 pickup was his little brother.

Neil went to his side. Kerry Jymm wasn't breathing.

Three other men, one a close friend of Neil and Kerry's from New Mexico, were dead.

Neil knew immediately and without doubt, he said, that his life would forever be changed by the tragedy unfolded around him.

Neil on Tuesday revisited the scene of the Sunday morning crash that put his younger brother in the hospital. Neil was luckier. Protected in the cab, the 22-year-old wasn't hurt.

On Tuesday, as Kerry, 21, lay in an intensive care unit in critical condition at the Kansas University Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., Neil stood somberly on the Union Pacific tracks that his friend's truck hit before it overturned.

He held a dusty, brown leather sandal in his hand.

It was his brother's, left behind after the accident near Seventh and Maple streets in North Lawrence.

Neil, a former student at Haskell Indian Nations University, said he didn't remember much about the accident. He wasn't sure whether the vehicle flipped once or several times.

"I just remember crawling out of the truck," he said. "I had to find my little brother. He wasn't breathing when I found him."

Kerry suffered head injuries but is expected to survive, his brother said.

In the days or weeks to come, Neil will learn whether his friend Manuel Brown, 20, will end up in court because of the accident.

Brown, also a former Haskell student, was driving when the truck hit steel, spilling six men out of the back at 7:47 a.m. Sunday.

An accident report released Tuesday by the Lawrence Police Department said alcohol contributed to the crash.

It was unusual for Brown to drink and drive, Neil said.

"Manuel is a responsible person," he said. "Normally he'd be like my DD (designated driver)."

Is it true the eight men had been partying all night?

"It depends on what you mean by all night," Neil said. "We didn't leave my house until 12, 12:30."

He did not describe the men's activities in the hours between the time they left the house and the crash.

Neil said the men were returning home when the accident happened.

Neil, Kerry, Brown, and Joshua and Yancy Longhat grew up together in New Mexico, Neil said.

Yancy Longhat, 20, died at the scene. So did Albert Whitebull, 25, and Ray "Mike" Red Elk, 24. All three were Haskell students.

Other victims of the accident still were hospitalized Tuesday.

Clint Wahquahboshkuk, 23, Mayetta, was in critical condition at Overland Park Regional Medical Center. Joshua Longhat, a Haskell student whose age has not been available, was in fair condition at KUMC.

Police reports have not been forwarded to the Douglas County District Attorney's office, Sgt. George Wheeler said Tuesday afternoon. Prosecutors are waiting to see the reports before deciding whether to charge Brown with any crimes. Doctors released Brown on Monday from Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

-- Deb Gruver's phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is dgruver@ljworld.com.

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