Archive for Monday, December 1, 2003

U.S. 24-59 claims another life

Wreck near Midland Junction is second fatality in less than three weeks

December 1, 2003


A woman was killed Sunday night when the sport utility vehicle she was driving rolled several times on the U.S. Highway 24-59 curve near Midland Junction north of Lawrence.

It was the second fatality and third injury accident along that stretch of highway during November.

The Kansas Highway Patrol identified the victim as Carmen S. Jessup, 18, McLouth.

Timothy D. Skaggs, 20, Tonganoxie, was taken by ambulance to Lawrence Memorial Hospital. He was treated and released, a nursing supervisor said. He was a passenger in Jessup's 2001 Ford SUV, the patrol said.

No other vehicles were involved in the accident.

The crash occurred shortly before 6 p.m., the patrol said. Jessup was westbound when the vehicle went off the right side of the highway.

Jessup overcorrected while trying to return to the highway and lost control, a Highway Patrol report stated. The vehicle rolled several times before coming to a stop facing south in the westbound lane. Jessup was ejected from the vehicle.

The accident occurred where the highway curves toward the west for northbound traffic.

Lawrence Police and Douglas County Sheriff's officers assisted the Highway Patrol at the scene, rerouting traffic and blocking off the highway. Police halted northbound traffic at the intersection of U.S 24-59 and Riverfront Road. Vehicles that had already gone by that cutoff were turned around near the scene by sheriff's officers.

News media were not allowed near the scene. A Journal-World photographer who identified himself to a law-enforcement official was told to leave the area. A reporter was also kept away.

The two-lane highway north of Lawrence has seen its share of accidents over the years. But the latest rash of accidents has surprised even law enforcement officers.

"I've been a policeman for 22 years and I don't remember a stretch of this many consecutive accidents along there in such a short amount of time," said Douglas County Sheriff's Lt. Ken Massey.

Massey had no theories about why the accidents were suddenly occurring.

"I wouldn't even want to speculate without knowing all the facts about what happened," he said.

On Nov. 13, on a curve 1/4 of a mile southeast of Midland Junction -- the same curve where Jessup was killed -- Kansas University professor emeritus Paul V. Gump 83, Oskaloosa, was killed in a head-on collision. His wife, Natalie Gump, 77, was critically injured and remains in Kansas University Hospital in Kansas City, Kan.

Paul Gump was driving eastbound when his car crossed the center line and collided with a westbound car driven by Vera D. Neal, 70, Williamsburg, the Highway Patrol said. Neal was taken by ambulance to LMH where she was treated and released.

Tuesday, two drivers were injured when their vehicles collided at the junction. One of the drivers was attempting to turn off the highway and was struck by an oncoming pickup truck, according to the Highway Patrol report. The drivers, Galen G. Miller, 79, and Steven L. Gray, 44, both of Lawrence, were taken by ambulance to Lawrence Memorial Hospital where they were treated and released.

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