Three members of a Bonner Springs family are dead after the minivan they were in struck a guardrail Friday afternoon on the Kansas Turnpike near Bonner Springs.
Joseph D. Lombardo, 47, and his two sons, Joseph D.M. Lombardo III, 26, and Anthony Michael Vince Lombardo, 24, were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.
It was Joseph III's birthday.
About 3 p.m., the 1995 Mercury minivan he was driving westbound on the turnpike struck a guardrail just before reaching a bridge and swerved back onto the roadway. The force of the collision ejected his father and brother from the minivan, a spokesman from the Kansas Turnpike Authority said.
Joseph Lombardo III, who had been wearing his seat belt, was pinned in the vehicle.
Kansas Highway Patrol officers blocked traffic through both westbound lanes at the accident scene, about a mile east of the Kansas Highway 7 interchange. Traffic was stopped for almost an hour and backed up about three and a half miles in the westbound lanes past the turnpike's interchange with Interstate 435, a spokeswoman from the Highway Patrol said.
At 3:20 p.m., officers closed both eastbound lanes to allow a helicopter to land. For about 30 minutes, all traffic attempting to pass through on I-70 was blocked.
By 4 p.m., the eastbound lanes had been reopened. One lane of westbound traffic was clear but slow-moving as passers-by gazed at the van whose shattered windshield was left in a concave horseshoe.
Officials finished clearing the scene about 5 p.m., the Highway Patrol spokeswoman said.
A spokesman from the Turnpike Authority said the cause of the accident was under investigation.