20-year-old critically injured in rollover wreck

Douglas County Sheriff's deputies work the scene of a single-vehicle accident Sunday. The driver, who was headed north on County Road 1055, was flown to KU Hospital.

A 20-year-old Baker University student was flown to a Kansas City-area hospital in critical condition after a rollover wreck Sunday afternoon two miles southeast of Lawrence.

Lt. Kari Wempe, a Douglas County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman, said the driver was headed north on County Road 1055 at 12:30 p.m. when she veered off the east edge of the road. She tried to pull her vehicle back onto the road but lost control.

“It appears there was some overcorrection, which caused the vehicle to roll several times,” Wempe said.

Witnesses said the white Nissan Pathfinder with a Washington state license plate ended up on its wheels in a ditch on the western side of the road facing south, although vehicle parts were strewn across the road.

The accident happened about two miles south of 31st Street and Haskell Avenue.

Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical workers extricated the woman from the vehicle. A helicopter ambulance then flew her to Kansas University Hospital in Kansas City, Kan.

On Sunday the sheriff’s office did not release any more information about the driver, who was alone in the vehicle. Wempe said officers were still investigating what caused her to veer from the road.

Steve Rottinghaus, a Baker University spokesman, confirmed Sunday evening that the injured person was a student at the Baldwin City university. A nursing supervisor at the hospital said an update on her condition was unavailable Sunday night.

Larry Caldwell, who lives at 1143 E. 1500 Road, was playing with his grandchildren in his backyard when he heard the wreck. The vehicle ended up in the ditch just feet away from a brick wall on his property.

He said the driver appeared bloodied and badly injured, and the vehicle was heavily damaged.

“It kind of puts a lump in your throat when you walk around from in the back of your house and see something like that,” Caldwell said.

He said the driver had her seat belt on. By the time he ran into his house to call 911, a driver in a separate vehicle had already made the call.

Caldwell has lived at that address for about five years. He’s seen a half-dozen serious wrecks on the stretch of road, although Sunday’s appeared to be the most serious, he said.

He said he didn’t know specifically what happened with Sunday’s wreck, but that for several years he’s thought generally that people drive too fast for the 55 mph speed limit.

“It’s kind of getting out of control, and you hate to walk out and see people wrecking in front of your place,” he said.