Archive for Thursday, April 6, 2006

Injured teen’s grandfather threatens to block road

April 6, 2006


Coye Baker is fed up with the bump in the road.

Baker, the grandfather of a special-needs teenager who was struck this weekend by a trailer that hopped the curb near a notorious road bump on North Second Street, said he's willing to take drastic measures to get the city's attention. He plans a protest at the scene of the wreck on Saturday morning.

"If I have to, I'm gonna take my car in the middle of the street and tie a rope across so no one can get through," said Baker, 81. "I hope it'll get somebody's attention before somebody else gets hurt or killed."

Baker said his grandson, 15-year-old Billy Baker, was recuperating Wednesday at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., and was preparing to undergo a skin graft. Billy, who is autistic and legally blind, was walking along the east side of the road with his father shortly before noon Saturday when a trailer attached to a Toyota sport utility vehicle came onto the sidewalk and struck him.

The trailer would have just passed a bump in the road a few feet to the south that residents say is unsafe and has been neglected for too long. But so far there is no official word from police on what caused the wreck, nor whether the driver of the truck, Lawrence resident John Olmstead, would be cited.

Coye Baker explains how he was restrained by Lawrence Police when he ran up to the scene where his grandson, Billy Baker, was struck by a trailer near the intersection of North Second and Locust streets. Baker, who has raised the 15-year-old, pleaded Wednesday for the city to fix the large bump in the road, which may have caused the accident.

Coye Baker explains how he was restrained by Lawrence Police when he ran up to the scene where his grandson, Billy Baker, was struck by a trailer near the intersection of North Second and Locust streets. Baker, who has raised the 15-year-old, pleaded Wednesday for the city to fix the large bump in the road, which may have caused the accident.

"It throwed him about 15 foot," said Doug Baker, Billy's father, who was walking with him at the time. "His little legs got caught up underneath the trailer ... It's the worst thing you'd want to see happen to one of your children."

Billy's right leg was seriously injured, and Doug Baker said doctors were still working Wednesday to save it.

At the time of the wreck, the two were walking toward downtown, where they planned to take a round-trip ride on a Lawrence Transit System bus.

Coye Baker, who has raised his grandson since the boy was 1, said he not only wants the city to fix the bump promptly, he wants the city to extend a nearby guardrail that runs along North Second Street so that it would reach the intersection with Locust Street.

Billy was struck while walking in an area where there was no guardrail.

Coye Baker wants work on the road bump to begin immediately.

"It needs to be started on today, not tomorrow," he said. "It should have been started on 10 years ago."

As it now stands, the bump is not scheduled to be fixed until October 2007. The city and the Kansas Department of Transportation plan a $2 million renovation of the intersection, with the state paying 80 percent.

It may be difficult to move it up on the schedule, said Chuck Soules, the city's director of public works.

"I've had discussions with KDOT, but right now we don't even have a preliminary design yet," Soules said. "Can we do better than the October deadline? Possibly. But the state also has the issue of where they scheduled it in their funding mechanism."

In the meantime, he said, the city is looking at possible temporary fixes, such as signs, speed changes or changes to the pavement.

Soules said that a revamped intersection probably would have a sidewalk that sits farther from the edge of the curb - something that might resolve pedestrian-safety concerns in lieu of a guardrail.

Intersection of North Second and Locust

Coye Baker also said Wednesday that he was upset that police officers at the scene restrained him when he tried to get close to his injured grandson. He showed bruises that he said were the result of three officers grabbing and maneuvering his arms.

"He has brought that to our attention," said Sgt. Dan Ward, a Lawrence Police spokesman. "It's very emotional and confusing at the time when you have something like this happen ... We encourage feedback from citizens, and we're looking into it to see if things were done the way they should have been."

As for the grandfather's plan to protest in the roadway, Ward said police support protests as long as they're done lawfully. To block a city right-of-way, you must have a permit beforehand, he said.

"We don't want anybody to be injured - the protesters or anyone else," he said. "We don't want more tragedy."

Billy's fund

The family of Billy Baker has set up a donation fund in his name at both Lawrence First State Bank locations. Billy suffered severe injuries when a trailer struck him this weekend. Steve Stemmerman, Billy's teacher at Central Junior High School, helped to set up the fund and said that he had already received some donations from fellow teachers. People who want to donate can drop off any donations at the bank, or can send mail to P.O. Box 701 in Lawrence, Stemmerman said.


amanda_lazer 9 years, 8 months ago

That bump at that intersection has been there since I was a kid (I'm 25 now). I remember coming off of the back seat when my dad drove the speed limit. I'm not saying that the driver is innocent: Why did it take something like this for someone to say "I guess we have to fix it now"? I am so glad I don't live in Lawrence anymore. The city needs to get their head out of you know where...

YourItalianPrincess 9 years, 8 months ago

I hope that this grandfather does everything in his power to get the message across. I truely understand how upset he is about what happened to his grandson.

superduper 9 years, 8 months ago

I have a large box truck and I have to take that intersection at less than 5mph when empty to keep control of the truck. Every time I have to go to north Lawrence or on 24 I curse that road. It is very dangerous. I've seen a lot of trailers going 30 or less over that and their wheels will totally come off the ground.

What would have to be done if there were a very large hole in the middle of the road. Like 20 feet for example? What action would be taken and would it be closed until Oct. 2007?

God bless the Bakers.

NorthLawrenceDude 9 years, 8 months ago

Defender, you are correct. The dip, then hump...can cause a trailer to come unhitched. I have a hunch this is exactly what happened. The driver is very well known and liked person in Lawrence. I am sure he knew the hump-bump was there, but had no control over a trailer coming unhitched. (In other words, he wasn't speeding or being careless) This is a tragedy for both parties involved. I hope the Bakers sue the hell out of the city for not fixing that intersection years ago. (The city would settle out of court I am sure....any lawyers reading this??)

craigers 9 years, 8 months ago

I know my dad's trailer has chains that he uses whenever he attaches his trailer to prevent problems even if it comes un-hitched. I'm thinking along the lines of failure to secure load for the drivers citation. I hope Mr. Baker does protest but I wish he wouldn't block the road because that will only add to the Baker's expenses. I doubt the Billy fund has enough to bail out grandpa.

NorthLawrenceDude 9 years, 8 months ago

Word on the street is that the tow chain broke. Evidently the "dip" caused the ball-hitch to come loose, then the "hump" caused the trailer to ram foward breaking the chain. It was a large heavy trailer, it CAN happen. I doubt there will be citations, I think the city is just trying to figure out how to cover their @ss!

YourItalianPrincess 9 years, 8 months ago

Seriously.......... how much could it possibly cost to flatten the road and put layers of new concrete down?

Anyone have any ideas of how much it costs to pave a small portion of a road like this?

lorraine 9 years, 8 months ago

we've lived on the north shore for 4 years, and i drive over that damn bump 2 or three times a day. it's caused two flat tires, and can be counted on,every time, to wake up sleeping babies. at the nlia meetings, we've been told by the city that it wouild be fixed in 2005, 2006, and now 2007... if there is a demonstration on saturday, my family will be there. horrible, unnessesary accidents aside, this street is one of the main entrances to the city - have some pride and fix the damn thing.

lawrencian 9 years, 8 months ago

As an almost lifelong (age 31) resident of N. Lawrence, I have to admit that I can't really remember there ever NOT being a dip in the road at this intersection, and I've always wondered why it was there... Even if there is a good long-term fix in the works with the intersection being redone, whenever that happens, surely there is something that the city can do to at least fill in the dip in the road in the meantime!

NorthLawrenceDude 9 years, 8 months ago

Last summer I picked my 78 yr old mother up from the nursing home for a "day out" at my house. After an exhaustive morning of her rambling things that did not make sense, we drove through that intersection. As she stared blankley out of the windshield, she mumbled "that damn bump is still here"

It has been there forever! Come on city, no more "trees and shrubs", lets get the bump fixed!

Rationalanimal 9 years, 8 months ago

This bump (or "dip" as the enlightened Charles Soules calls it) is the proveberial tip of the iceberg. The entire Lawrence street system is one continuous bump. Charles Soules' response to this particular problem ("some people it a bump, some people call it a dip") is indicative of more than just the depth of his own incomptetence to a spectacular degree, it illustrates a pervasive self-induced ignorance to the crumbling state of our road system. Charles Soules' statement indicates he is totally oblivous to the problem in Lawrence. So why should any of us expect anything be done to fix problems he nor the City commission sees?

I have two cars and can't keep either one of them aligned. My driving is personified by constant attempts to dodge potholes, chains of potholes, convex protusions, and series of convex protrusions (for the layman like Charles Soules a convex protusion is a "bump"). There are very few roads in Lawrence capable of allowing a car to drive the actual speed limit. My experience is most roads require a 10 - 20 MPH reduction in speed. If Charles Soules and the City Commission persist in ignoring the street issue, whether willfully ignorant or just plain stupid ignorant, can we at least have a City owned auto repair shop? At least then we can recapture the money spent by Lawrence residents on auto repairs. We could use the revenue generated to support some of the other "high" priority agenda issues like an additional pot ordinance, or even better yet, a $30 million dollar downtown library, or maybe we could just give Lawerence residents a tax break (heaven forbid!). We would have the first legitimate city sponsored brick-and-tire operation. How's that for the City (Lawrence) hosting the nations #1 academic public administration program?

Charles Soules, nor the City Commission, even recognize there is a problem. Good luck getting them to fix a problem they don't see.


Isaythis 9 years, 8 months ago

Mr.Coye Baker Im with you all the way I going to drive by there Saturday morning if you are there I will join you and I think all of use who use the street and those who have kids should join Mr Baker!!!!!! LETS DO IT!!

adky 9 years, 8 months ago

What about the guy whose trailer came off his vehicle? It was defective equipment. A trailer shouldn't fall off because of a bump in the road.

Janet Lowther 9 years, 8 months ago

As a temporary fix, a couple of truckloads of asphalt could make a big difference at N3rd & Locust.

However, what about 23rd & Barker? The city reworked the intersection to CREATE a dip which was scarred by many an oil drain plug before it was a month old! Was this a so-called "Traffic calming device?" Call 'em what they really are: Traffic hazards.

juscin3 9 years, 8 months ago

I totally agree with the grandfather. That needed to be fixed a LONG time ago. That road has been like that if not any better since I lived in N. Lawrence when I was a kid. I even remember when the bus driver would go fast over it just so we would jump out of our seats...knowing he was jokin at the time he should have been more careful. And I knew that he wasn't doing it to get anyone hurt. We knew what he was doing so we were prepared. I am now almost 37 and the road is still bad. My hubby can't even stand driving on 2nd st knowing that the road is like that. I am not sure but a few years ago there was a young man that was killed in that area as well. Not sure if the road was the cause of it or not. But still, something needs to be done about it. It's terribly sad that it has to come to something like this especially a child getting hurt for something to be done about it. If they knew that they were planning on doing this in 07', then where the heck is the design at? Why are there "excuses" to why they can't get this fixed sooner? If this road was a problem for sooooo many years, why is it taken this long to correct it?? They can afford to put the stupid round-a-bouts in, but they can't fix this problem that has been goin on since the 80's!!! I'm on a roll here, better quit while I'm ahead. Best of luck on getting that road fixed!

YourItalianPrincess 9 years, 8 months ago

Well if you need to go to North Lawrence you can always take a right and go left at the tracks.

Oh wait, I forgot about those tracks. The one set of tracks that lead to no where should be paved over also. The spikes are coming up and who needs a flat tire. The other tracks aren't any better either.

Well people theres your choice to get to North Lawrence. A bump, lump, dip, hill, what ever you want to call it or tracks that are horrible.

I agree with the other poster who said that the road leads to Lawrence, so get it fixed already. If you have said this 3 times then get it done.

wonderhorse 9 years, 8 months ago

Fix the stupid bump. On the other hand, I will object physically with anyone who tries to block a public road.

NorthLawrenceDude 9 years, 8 months ago

I heard Johnnie's is going to offer reduced price lunch and beer to any protesters that come Saturday. Wooo hooo!!

wonderhorse 9 years, 8 months ago

No, just drive though the stupid bump, like I have done for 30+ years now.

BrianR 9 years, 8 months ago

I agree with Wonderhorse, if I can't get to work on Sat morning because grandpa is blocking the intersection, I have a problem with that. Steal his gold card? I was thinking more along the lines of dropping a piano on him.

Chrissy Neibarger 9 years, 8 months ago

I can say that the driver (a friend of mine) is crushed by what happened. He doen't normally drive with a trailer on the back, was just hauling a car in for repair. He did have tow lines on them and yes the "bump" was bad enough to knock everything loose, and as soon as it was realized, it was too late. I do feel for the little boy and totally agree that the city MUST DO SOMETHING NOW before someone actually dies. peace...

adky 9 years, 8 months ago

Yes, why is that Macon?

Btw, wth is Rennaisance poesy?

SpeedRacer 9 years, 8 months ago

RationalAnimal, From a LJW story in 1992: "Charles Soules replaced Williams. He had been the public works director and city engineer for Emporia since 1994. Soules has more than 14 years of experience in municipal public works as well as experience writing and administering state and federal grants. He has been involved with some notable Emporia projects, including the 1997 brick street renovation and historic preservation of Berkley Street, and water treatment plant improvements that received the 2000 Public Improvement Award from the American Public Works Assn."

Anyone who had ever driven the streets of Emporia might have questioned his qualifications. Brick work in a historical area doesn't imply a successful management of the rest of the infrastructure. As I recall at the time, restoring the brick streets in Old West Lawrence seemed to be a Commission priority. Where are all the grants he is noted for being able to write? I do not not know much of him other that a couple of times that I have seen him in the Commission meetings, and I have very little to go on to question his credentials, but it is the reults that have to be judged. I thought street maintenance was pretty good prior to his tenure. Is the City better off for having hired him? I think this is a question the Commission needs to address. Of those who were part of the selection process, Wildgen is gone but Rundle is still around. What about it. Mike?

amanda_lazer 9 years, 8 months ago

Well, as to everyone's burning question as to why it hasn't been fixed yet... Take a look around! Do you see much being repaired in North Lawrence as a whole? I give props to Neighborhood Resources for helping out with the newer homes in that area. I'm not saying that North Lawrence is a bad place or anything, I was going to get married at the train station. Besides, that, why would anyone not protest the damn round abouts. It is a waste of the tax payers money and everyones mental health as a whole. I know that Lawrence is a "green" community and whatnot, but, build a park or something. Fix what needs fixed and leave everything else the hell alone!!!!

YourItalianPrincess 9 years, 8 months ago

Maybe the driver of the car should be there with the grandfather. I understand he feels horrible for what happened and its truely not his fault. He should take a stand along with the grandfather.

Fatty_McButterpants 9 years, 8 months ago

adky: I guess accidents never happen in your world. People can take all the precautions in the world but sometimes things happen anyway. Furthermore, why don't we BOTH wait until the official police report comes out before jumping to conclusions.

adky 9 years, 8 months ago

Blameless accidents very rarely occur. No one believes in personal responsibility any more and they use the word accident to hide their behavior. Perhaps this was a true blameless accident, but I can't imagine how that could be.

wonderhorse 9 years, 8 months ago


Sorry, why should somebody be allowed to keep me from driving down a public street, jerk?

adky 9 years, 8 months ago

Perhaps some driver won't see him and "accidently" hit him. Of course it won't be the driver's fault, just an accident.

YourItalianPrincess 9 years, 8 months ago

Wishing any harm to a person is bad Karma. Shame on you.

adky 9 years, 8 months ago

I wasn't wishing harm. Just warning him not to stand in the street.

MARNSPAPPY 9 years, 8 months ago

While in NL the other day, my wife and I happened to pass by this intersection just after the accident happened. We watched as the grandfather was being "restrained" by LPD. I know that he was very emotional, but he needed to be restrained. He was yelling at everyone on the scene & he looked like he was getting in the way of his grandson getting help. The firefighters that I saw were helping his grandson but he was pushing them and getting in their way he was being more of a henderence than helpful. I know that if this were a relative of mine, I would be upset but I would hope that I would let the people that are there to help "help." If grandpa does protest that it fine, but how is he helping his grandson from jail, if he blocks the roadway?

Richard Heckler 9 years, 8 months ago

In support of Coye Baker and his grandson:

Let's all write to our city commissioners and suggest that the City of Lawrence fix the bump to meet KDOT specs. Whether or not KDOT will reimburse the city is not important although the city should seek restitution for doing KDOT's job. At the same time mention the YSI soccer field intersection. Do 2nd street first.">p> Mike Rundle Sue Hack Boog Highberger

P.S. The YSI intersection was not on KDOT's radar until two weeks ago when Comm. Schauner inquired. A poorly KDOT designed intersection fell off the KDOT radar.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 8 months ago

If the trailer was not hitched appropriately that is the drivers responsibility doubt the driver feels like his world is ending.

compmd 9 years, 8 months ago

adky & wonderhorse: maybe you forgot about the fact that gramps can get a permit to block the road. Go ahead and hit him, I'll sit in the back of the courtroom during your bond hearing for your felony assault charge laughing at you.

usaschools 9 years, 8 months ago

Having lived in North Lawrence for years, I believe that the bump isn't the issue. Anyone driving the speed limit will scarcely notice it is there. You'd have to be exceeding the speed limit for it to be a problem in my opinion. Perhaps the limit should be lowered. Drivers heading out to the county often cross the bridge pretty quickly.

wtchdr46 9 years, 8 months ago

Some of you people that are giving word support need to come out at 7:30 Saturday morning. As it now stands, I think we are going to get a large enough crowd to close the bridge. I have seen four accidents in that location in the last three years. When you have a situation that poses unsafe road conditions, It is a citizens duty to prevent more persons being injured. In the case where the authorities have been notified, and the best they can do is 2007, something needs to be done to wake them up. If it had been one of the commissioners children, the repair work would have began as soon as the wreckage was removed. Is this a strong sign that we have executive privilige in Lawrence? As to the guy that plans to drop a piano on Coye Baker, do you plan to drop that piano on 2,000 to 3,000 people. As to the other guy who said that he would knock him out of the way, Maybe he will have the good sense to stay in his car when he sees how much support there is. If he intends to get to work on time on Saturday, he would be well advised to go through Eudora and Hwy 10. We plan to be there. North Lawrence is more than tired of being treated like the bastard stepchild. You south lawrence royalty allow your kids to torment North Lawrence kids starting in grade school. What do you expect when children grow up being called theiving river rats. It is the same now as it was when I went to the ninth grade at Central junior High school in 1960. Don't you folks realize when someone hears that they are bad over a period of years, they turn bad? Let's use this incident to address and clean up several problems at the same time. Attention South Lawrence, Show up to help support this action and you might save yourself from being killed in your bed by some North Lawrence teenager who is convinced that he is bad by such stupidity that he decides to retaliate. No threat, Just experience speaking.

housewivesofamerica 9 years, 8 months ago

It is time all of Lawrence backed this grandfather and be at his protest on Saturday morning. Who knows who will be hurt or killed next. It is only a matter of time before it is your turn to be affected personally by this bump, dip. We must send a strong message to the city commissioners. If anyone is charged for this accident it should be the commissioners for neglect of duty. It is past time to put public safety first. I have been trying to get streets in North Lawrence Widened. I have been trying to get more sidewalks in North Lawrence. Instead the city widened the alley behind my home by about 3 feet. The street in front of my home is waiting to be widened with sidewalks added. We have parking on the streets in North Lawrence. It is not safe to do so because the streets are too narrow. When does the city of Lawrence plan to address these issues? I have been told by a Lawrence Police Officer that it will never be addressed because it is NORTH Lawrence. He told me how we don't count and they don't care.

jayhawk72 9 years, 7 months ago

I have an idea!!! Take some of the money AWAY from the account that funds those idiotic "roundabouts" and fix the damn road!!

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