Archive for Thursday, October 2, 2008

KU student killed in single-vehicle accident

A KU student is dead after a fatal accident this early Thursday morning. Kansas University student and Air Force Staff Sgt. Neil Hockenbarger, 26, was killed in a single-vehicle wreck in northern Lawrence.

October 2, 2008, 12:55 a.m. Updated October 2, 2008, 3:56 p.m.


Neil Hockenbarger

Neil Hockenbarger

Kansas University student and Air Force Staff Sgt. Neil Hockenbarger, 26, was killed in a single-vehicle accident early Thursday morning, at the intersection of Michigan Street and Sunchase Drive, north of the Kansas Turnpike in Lawrence.

The gray Mazda he was driving left the street and struck a tree and a power pole about 12:15 a.m., splitting the pole in two, police said. Hockenbarger, the driver, died at the scene. His wife, Tiffany Hockenbarger, 25, Lawrence, was riding in the car and suffered minor cuts and bruises, Lawrence police said. She was checked and released at the scene after opting not to get medical attention.

According to Sgt. Susan Hadl, the vehicle was believed to be driving north on Michigan Street when the driver missed a turn onto Sunchase Drive and overcorrected - causing the vehicle to hit the utility pole and ultimately come to rest against a tree. Preliminary reports indicated the vehicle also may have caught fire, but the fire quickly subsided.

Hockenbarger was born and raised in Leavenworth and was a staff sergeant in the United States Air Force. He graduated in 2000 from Pleasant Ridge High School in Easton. He has family in Leavenworth and De Soto.

"He was wonderful," his mother, Joan Hockenbarger, said during a brief conversation Thursday afternoon.

Neil Hockenbarger was taking classes through a program with KU's Air Force ROTC unit. He had attended KU before becoming active in the military and joined the Air Force ROTC unit this summer to continue working on his degree.

Hockenbarger, previously an aircraft maintenance specialist, was selected for a competitive program through the Air Force, called the Airman Education and Commissioning Program, said Lt. Col. Gena Stuchbery, commander and adjunct professor of the KU Air Force ROTC department. He was completing the final two years of a mechanical engineering degree as part of the program.

"He seemed to be a very forthright man of integrity and a very dedicated person," Stuchbery said. "He had his life goals, he wanted to get this degree and become an officer. He was well on his way to doing that."

She said the Air Force was providing support to his widow and family.

Google Map

Intersection of Michigan St. and Sunchase Dr.

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craigers 9 years, 8 months ago

I wondered what caused my power outage last night. It was shortly after midnight and lasted for about 40 minutes. I live on Sunchase. The power crews were still there at 7am this morning getting everything put back. That sucks. I'm so sorry for the family. I'll pray for comfort.

KansasGirl82 9 years, 8 months ago

I don't think a seatbelt would have helped. (By looking at the picture)

Jaylee 9 years, 8 months ago

hey craigers i live on sunchase too!and yeah it was 1220 when my power went out and i almost didnt wake up on time this morning cause my alarm clock was screwed. they were definitely still working on everything and had michigan completely blocked off at a little before 7am when i left for school. that is just so sad and i wonder which house is theirs so i can bring some comfort food or something. i assume they LIVE on sunchase.

Paula Kissinger 9 years, 8 months ago

I asked that my previous comment be removed when some of you expressed concerns that I had "trashed" someone's memory or was "spewing crap". I was doing neither. You are entitled to your opinions and allowed to post them here. My previous statements were simply that it is a shame that these things happen when they are preventable and that bad judgments always hurt someone. As the details unfold you may decide for yourselves. I apologize if I offended any of you.

Paula Kissinger 9 years, 8 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

alm77 9 years, 8 months ago

I can't get the video to work.... it has 00:00 for the time?

bearded_gnome 9 years, 8 months ago

"He seemed to be a very forthright man of integrity and a very dedicated person," Stuchbery said. "He had his life goals, he wanted to get this degree andbecome an officer. He was well on his way to doing that."LJW, thanks for adding this. I am proud he lived among us. and, to the comment above, yes, the new widdow may see these comments, or the video, so do have a heart. too bad you've never suffered a traumatic sudden loss. I hope you never do. it would haunt you the rest of your life. and, you'll wonder why you are the survivor. most of all, remember the best gift we humans can give each other is humanity.

Crystal Patterson 9 years, 8 months ago

Pit Bull Grandma, you are clearly just trying to stir the pot. Pick a different article to get spew the crap. A wife lost her husband, a family lost their son. Have a little a class.

CarterFaucheaux 9 years, 8 months ago

This is a horribly sad situation. I feel terrible for his wife.

Steve Jacob 9 years, 8 months ago

We will find the other stuff out soon enough, very sad loss.

Deja Coffin 9 years, 8 months ago

My thoughts and prayers are with his wife and family. I'm so sorry for your loss.

KansasGirl82 9 years, 8 months ago

LJ WORLD will you please have a heart and remove the video? It is very sad. The wife does not need to relive this. Please just have a heart...

ksdivakat 9 years, 8 months ago

Jaylee, If you find out where the wife lives will you please pm me and let me know, id like to also take food to her, and her family, my thoughts and prayers are with her and her family at this terrible time of loss, may God bless her and give her peace.

bearded_gnome 9 years, 8 months ago

PBG, where in heck did you get that? if you "heard it" you really shouldn't post it here, trashing the memory of a newly dead person is pretty cheap and low. ***"The power went off for a few seconds, then quickly came back on," said Brian Spainhower, a neighbor who lives on the 100 block of Michigan Street. "Afterthat, it sputtered for a bit, then everything went dark. I walked outside and all the lights were off throughout the entire neighborhood. I went to lighta candle and that's when I heard the sirens."uh, more than a candle went out then. God care for that wife. I hope she has many good memories of her husband to treasure, and a boatload of support. sounds as if possibly she and he are new to this community. we will be praying for you dear wife. talk to people, don't hold your loss inside.

savannahg 9 years, 8 months ago

Neil was an all around great guy. He was one of the most genuine, caring, intelligent, and determined people I've ever met. If you didn't know him, you should have. I know he's really going to be missed. His family is in my thoughts.

Deja Coffin 9 years, 8 months ago

Although a picture may have done the same. I don't think the video is such a bad thing. It brought a lot of people on here to show sympathy and support to the family. It's not like people are commenting on the obituaries and showing their sympathy to those families everyday.

simplyamazed 9 years, 8 months ago

The real shame here is the posting of the full video of this sad event. Sometimes I think J/W has no heart, sympathy or shame whatsoever. The wife will soon see this video and have to re-live the horrific moments that brought an end to her husband and life as she once knew. A small picture would have been sufficient but the video shows way too much details of what happens after a death from an accident. Shame on JW! I will keep the family in my prayers because they will need everything they can get in the form of support at this time but not in they way it has been presented here! My prayer is that JW would correct their sensitivity levels and respect others in times like these. May God watch over the family and help them to get past the sorrows.

bekind2others 9 years, 8 months ago

Personally knowing Neil, I am certain he had a seatbelt on. Knowing Neil's care for others, for himself and for his wife, I know he was cautious driver. Even as a teenager, he was not one to "hot rod." He had more respect for his vehicles and the other people on the road. I do know that Neil just transferred from OK to the Lawrence area... so before assuming this was a speed issue, one might ask themselves... how well did he know the road? Have you ever popped up on a curve that you didn't know was there? Not knowing a road often causes accidents for cautious drivers.Neil.... you will always be in our hearts. Tiffany, Joan, Chris, Brandon... we are praying with you right now.The Air Force just lost an amazing soldier/officer. May God be with you during this difficult time.

muleish 9 years, 8 months ago

Prayers and thoughts for the family.

Christine Pennewell Davis 9 years, 8 months ago

looks like the pole went right in his door, so young. my thought go out to the family.

rsilvius 9 years, 8 months ago

Neil was a great guy and a wonderful friend. We went to middle school and high school together. He even helped me get my first job at CountryMart. He will be greatly missed by all that knew him. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife and family.

kermit84 9 years, 8 months ago

Neil will be missed. Please keep his family and friends in your prayers. I went to high school with him, went to prom with him, and even joined the AF just after him. He was truly a great person to have received the scholarship that he did. I have never met his wife, but she must be a pretty great girl to have married Neil. I am so sorry for you loss Tiffany.

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