RUSSELL — A van packed with 15 people crashed Monday on Interstate 70, killing three people and seriously injuring several others, the Kansas Highway Patrol said.
The eastbound Ford minivan, registered in Yonkers, N.Y., went into the median and overturned about 13 miles east of Russell, the patrol said. Investigators were seeking the cause of the crash, which happened shortly before 7 a.m.
Ten men and five women were packed into the nine-passenger van, in which the center bench seat had been removed, Trooper Mark Engholm said.
Few of the van's occupants spoke English, and a translator from the Immigration and Naturalization Service was helping identify them.
Engholm said one woman who had been seated in the back of the van died at the scene. A man and woman who were both thrown from the vehicle died while being flown to Wichita hospitals.
Authorities do not believe the van's owner was in the vehicle, said Lt. John Eichorn, the patrol's spokesman in Topeka.
The injured were taken to hospitals in Russell and Ellsworth, and five were later airlifted to hospitals in Wichita. Those five included the two who died en route.
At Via Christi Regional Medical Center in Wichita, one woman was in critical condition and a man was in fair condition, spokeswoman Judy Conklin said.
An official of Wesley Medical Center in Wichita said one person was in surgery Monday afternoon, but the official would not provide the patient's condition.
Three others were in intensive care at Russell Regional Hospital.