Archive for Friday, December 23, 2005

Accident kills 1, injures 3

Cause of wreck under investigation

December 23, 2005


One man died and another was critically injured early Thursday in a three-vehicle wreck at Sixth and Kentucky streets.

Police said 44-year-old Wade Collins died when the minivan he was driving crossed the center line on eastbound Sixth Street, struck an oncoming pickup truck and knocked it into another westbound pickup truck in the adjoining lane. The wreck happened at 6:38 a.m., and traffic was backed up until mid-morning as police rerouted vehicles around the scene.

Hazardous-materials crews from Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical responded after learning that the first pickup truck hit was carrying low-grade radioactive materials for medical use. The materials were from Cardinal Health Inc., a company with an office in the Kansas City, Mo., area, but a company manager declined comment Thursday.

Two large metal boxes labeled "radioactive" could be seen on the ground behind the pickup truck as officers worked the accident scene.

But Fire & Medical Chief Mark Bradford said none of the radioactive material being carried in the truck spilled outside its containers. The amount of radioactivity was so low, he said, that federal regulations didn't require the pickup truck to be marked with special placards.

Medical-grade radioactive material "is transported just like this was," Bradford said. "It's on airplanes. It's on a variety of things."

Bradford said that if the containers had leaked, hazmat crews likely would have tried to contain the leakage by putting the containers inside a metal drum and sealing it. Hazmat crews are trained to contain and mitigate spills, but not to clean them up, he said.

Collins was pronounced dead at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. His passenger, John Knackstedt Jr., 36, was flown by air ambulance to University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kan., but a condition update was not available Thursday evening.

Accident site

The driver of the pickup carrying radioactive material was identified as Kenneth Searzy, 62, of Kansas City, Mo. He and a passenger, John Sewell, 62, Lee's Summit, Mo., were taken to Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

Searzy was treated and released. Sewell was listed in fair condition Thursday evening.

The driver of the second pickup truck, Jeff Noll, 40, of Valley Falls, was not injured.

The circumstances that led to the wreck remained under investigation Thursday.

A member of Collins' family, reached by telephone Thursday evening, said she thought Collins was on his way to work. She declined to talk more about him except to say that he would "do anything" for other people.

It was the second fatal wreck in Lawrence this year. The first happened Nov. 25 at 19th and Massachusetts streets. Wesley Norwood, 77, died at Lawrence Memorial Hospital two days after that wreck.

Doug Billings, lead nuclear medical technologist for Lawrence Memorial Hospital, said the radioactive materials in the pickup weren't headed for LMH but that the hospital regularly used the company to deliver materials used for medical imaging. The materials, which look like a clear solution, often are carried in syringes encased in lead sheaths, he said.

"Part of the reason it's safe to transport is that most of it is low energy," he said.

-- 6News reporter Brooke Wehner contributed information to this article.


lori 12 years, 4 months ago

Isn't impact speed cumulative? As in, if one vehicle is heading east at 30 mph, and the other is heading west at 30mph, and they collide, their impact speed is 60. Don't know, but the depths of my brain seem to recall something like that from physics.

qeely50 12 years, 4 months ago


You are not seriously complaining about 30 mph being too fast on the only major east-west arterial road on the north side of lawrence. what speed do you suggest? 20 mph? That is the speed that most people drive across lawrence anyway...

I don't agree with the suggestion to lower the speed limit.

gccs14r 12 years, 4 months ago


Radium hasn't been used in watches in half a century and tritium is being phased out. If a watch doesn't glow continuously, it's probably just phosphorous.

NotASquishHead 12 years, 4 months ago

Lack of traffic lights? There are three intersections with lights in the five blocks east of Ohio Street.


I'm sure Marion will get this passed by the City Commission... after all it only takes one person with a "great" idea to get it passed. (i.e. "The empTy", roundabouts, etc.)

loboda 12 years, 4 months ago

some of you guys are really callous. do any of you know why this young guy crossed the line and caused the accident? maybe he was not paying attention, but then maybe something happened TO him that was beyond his control before he crossed the center line. ever here of the old saying, "innocent until proven guilty"? yes some accidents are preventable, but not all are intentional.

Smarmy_Schoolmarm 12 years, 4 months ago

I'm not sure why anyone would joke about "murdering snowmen" when this article is about the death of someone's son, father, husband, brother. How would a member of his family feel if they read this? Someone will too. They'll be scouring the paper trying to find a reason. They'll read this thread and wonder if you thought this man's life was trivial, the loss something to joke about.

Sarah Mathews 12 years, 4 months ago

Half the time I can't even bring myself to read the comments posted on this site. Anytime there is a tragedy some idiot always has to comment on how they probably deserved it. Clearly, if a person reaches for a donut or a drink they deserve to die. Get over yourselves. You're not perfect. Neither are the rest of us. Merry Christmas.

towtruck1 12 years, 4 months ago

well it sure is a good thing that Hillcrest towed all those two pickup's and the van away from the accident. That way everybody can have there X-MAS presents and coats back and the City Of Lawrence can pay for the tows.I hope that van that was on the wrong side of the road had insurance.From the looks of it I would really be concernd.

gccs14r 12 years, 3 months ago

"Yes Lori, impact speed is cumulative."

No, Marion, it isn't. There are variables involved, but basically each vehicle in a typical collision acts as a self-contained unit of momentum. Momentum is conserved in a vehicle collision, but kinetic energy is not, owing to deformation of the vehicles. In a head-on, each vehicle acts as if it has collided with a fixed, deformable barrier*, assuming that the vehicles are of approximately the same class (obviously this won't hold true if, for example, one vehicle is a Rabbit and the other a Peterbilt) and that neither one continues to apply power through the collision. Off-angle collisions will result in the vehicles having final velocity vectors different from their initial ones.

*which is why both NHTSA and IIHS employ a fixed, deformable barrier when performing crash tests.

bearded_gnome 12 years, 3 months ago

we gonna get a roundabout at 6th and ky now?

I am very concerned for the family of the fellow who died so suddenly, and I agree with [above] the comments, presuming we can know why he crossed the centerline...not a good idea! what if, say, he was driving and had a TIA? just a very brief and temporary loss of vision/orientation. now he's dead and some nymrod's accusing him of reaching for a doughnut or coffee! pretty lame.
and, smarmy, "Goodfella" has already irritated many on other threads here...apparently when he was born, his mother said name him "Rick" but the hospital typist's finger slipped and added a "p" at the beginning! so he's living down to his name!

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