Archive for Tuesday, October 7, 2008

KU student killed in car crash was under the influence of alcohol, report says

Lawrence police say alcohol was involved in a fatal crash that killed a KU student last week.

October 7, 2008


Alcohol contributed to a single-vehicle accident that killed a Kansas University student Oct. 2, a Lawrence police report said.

Neil Hockenbarger, 26, of Lawrence, died at the scene of the crash, which happened about 12:15 a.m. at the intersection of Michigan Street and Sunchase Drive, north of the Kansas Turnpike in Lawrence.

Hockenbarger, also an Air Force staff sergeant, was driving too fast for conditions, driving recklessly and/or carelessly, and was under the influence of alcohol, the police report said.

Hockenbarger was driving a 2008 gray Mazda. He lost control, left the street and struck a tree and a utility pole, splitting the pole in two and destroying his car, police said. He had to be cut from his seat belt to be removed from the vehicle, according to the report.

His wife, Tiffany Hockenbarger, 25, Lawrence, was riding in the car and suffered minor cuts and bruises, police said. She was checked and released at the scene after opting not to get medical attention.

The accident happened just feet from the couple's home on Sunchase Drive.

Police said the car was believed to be headed 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. The car did not catch fire, as preliminary reports indicated.

Neil Hockenbarger was born and raised in Leavenworth. He graduated in 2000 from Pleasant Ridge High School in Easton. He has family in Leavenworth and De Soto. He was taking classes through a program with KU's Air Force ROTC unit.

Services for Hockenbarger are scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday at Dwight Eisenhower V.A. Medical Center Chapel, Leavenworth.


Bob Forer 9 years ago

Compnd wrote: "There is no way to determine this when the driver is dead, so if the driver is declared "under the influence," he was over the legal limit."Hate to sound overly technical, especially given the tragedy invovled here, but since I am a former law enforcment official, I think Compnd is somewhat mistaken. Blood can be drawn from a corpse and the BAT content analyzed and determined at the KBI laboratory.

rachaelisacancer 9 years ago

Roger - Yes they do. I haven't ever been through one, but they are done and they are generally advertised beforehand and afterwards. Here's a report on one from September:

badger 9 years ago

What a terrible thing.My sympathies are with his family and loved ones.

geniusmannumber1 9 years ago

"Why not ban alcohol?"Do you really need that question answered for you? I'm assuming you posted the comment before you really thought about it.

Christine Pennewell Davis 9 years ago

no under the influence does not mean over the limit, but yes it says under the influence no excesive involved in the article and that once again is the point I was making.

packs_of_wild_dogzz 9 years ago

"Does not say excessive or even if he was over the limit just that he was/had been drinking."I'm doubting one beer caused him to drive too fast, lose control, and hit a telephone pole.

Christine Pennewell Davis 9 years ago

due the math 10mph from here to the ozarks?? how long is it going to take me to see my inlaws?

urgullible 9 years ago

It doesn't take any beer to cause speed. Cops will always say alcohol is involved even if it was only one beer. They always say the amount if they are over the limit. They will say it was involved no matter the amount for the simple fact they can blame alcohol and curb its use. Not saying they are wrong but if he was over the limit they would have said. I work in the EMS field and have seen more fatalities from speed then from alcohol. Way too many from both.

Joel Hood 9 years ago

mustbhiorlo - my grandmother was a card-carrying member of the WTCU & my dad took "the pledge" at a very early age (google it if you don't understand.) I have heard your prohibitionist stance all my life and there are a few problems with it - thousands of years of entrenched cultural acceptance of drinking and too much profit and tax revenue would be lost. Of course lives would be saved if no one drank. Lives would also be saved if the universal speed limit was 10 mph. Neither will happen.

shutnmdown 9 years ago

Idiots for parents..careful what you say, it maybe in your backyard somewhere, we all make mistakes, he's the one answering to it, and not you. That's bad karma, what goes around comes around for those that think they know it all and have something bad to say about this individual..

Boeing 9 years ago

Sad situation. I really feel for his family and wife.But prohibition, really? How about putting more money into education...drinking in moderation, handing over your keys, designated drivers. I know it's taught, but teach it more.

purplesage 9 years ago

A day or two ago, it was a tour bus in San Francisco that crashed killing 10 with suspicions of a drunken driver. Now this sad story about a young man with a promising career ahead of him. When are we going to get it? Alcohol is a consciousness altering and addictive substance that wreak havoc on our society. Isn't it tome to shut down the beverage alcohol industry? Yes, I know our great grandparents tried - and more ower to them. This stuff ruins lives and causes untold heartache and pain.

termtech215 9 years ago

No judgment needed. He paid the ultimate price for something we have probably all done at least once. Very sad. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife and family.

compmd 9 years ago

mommaeffort,The article states that he was "driving...under the influence of alcohol," which means he was over the limit.

RaynRavyn 9 years ago

mustbhiorlo (Anonymous) says: Seriously though I think it would be a smart idea to ban alcohol. Illicit drugs are illegal and alcohol kills more than all of those illicit drugs combined, that is no joke, it is a fact!Except for the fact that being illegal hasn't stoped the used of illicit drugs, and wouldn't stop the use of alcohol either. It would just make it harder to regulate, therefore even more dangerous than it already is. A bad idea that has already been attempted and failed...

MaryKatesPillStash 9 years ago

He was wearing his seat belt. That's the fourth fatal accident I've heard about in the past few months where the victim was wearing his/her seatbelt.

Christine Pennewell Davis 9 years ago

do not even need to drink to drive to fast and lose control hit a pole or anything else. But I was just saying nothing was said about excessive so why put it in.

compmd 9 years ago

"Under the influence" does not necessarily imply that someone was over the legal limit if they are alive and demonstrate that they are impaired. If someone is dead, the only way they can be determined "under the influence" is by their BAC. People whose BAC is below the legal limit may actually be "under the influence" (as determined by a field sobriety test) and appropriately cited for DUI. There is no way to determine this when the driver is dead, so if the driver is declared "under the influence," he was over the legal limit.

landon_alger 9 years ago

compmd:The article did not state he was over the legal limit. It simply stated he was "under the influence." I would ask the author of this article, Jesse Fray, to please clear this up if that information is available.It is common to report that any detectable b.a.c. indicates that one is "under the influence." In fact, NHTSA statistics on alcohol related vehicle fatalities are even more deceptive -- if anyone involved in a fatal accident, even if it is a passenger or pedestrian, had a detectable b.a.c., then the fatality is reported as "alcohol related," even if the actual driver involved had no detectable b.a.c. whatsoever.

jayhawkerincali 9 years ago

So where is the person when this story first broke a few days ago that was scolding everyone for assuming he was drunk/speeding, telling everyone they knew him and his family and he would NEVER do anything like that. Hmm. I guess we're just lucky the only person he harmed was himself. Drinking and driving happens all too often, especially in a college town. No pint of beer or rum and coke is worth killing yourself or somebody else. When will we learn?And obviously my thoughts go out to his family and friends. Hopefully they can get past this as quickly and painlessly as possible. His poor wife...

Christine Pennewell Davis 9 years ago

Does not say excessive or even if he was over the limit just that he was/had been drinking. But no matter just sad.

roger_o_thornhill 9 years ago

Does LPD do DUI checkpoints? I only remember one in the 12 years I have lived here. (Not saying anything about this particular incident, just made me think of it).

Confrontation 9 years ago

I remember having a speaker visit my high school back in the day. She was a mom who had pulled off the side of the road to breast feed her baby. A drunk driving idiot hit her car and killed the baby. Those high school students who drank before that continued to drink after that. I'm guessing they drank that same weekend after the speaker visited. Education rarely works when kids have idiots for parents who don't know how to discipline or set limits. Harsher punishments for drunk driving is the only way to reduce it.

Deja Coffin 9 years ago

While I don't agree with drinking and driving, my thoughts and prayers are with the family.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 9 years ago

I think we all wondered if there was booze involved. Regardless, it's tragic. I've driven while drunk and am glad I lived through it. Many of us "could" have been him.

rachaelisacancer 9 years ago

Compmd:I work in traffic safety and drunk driving prevention is a huge part of my business. Simply put, you are WRONG."Under the influence" does not mean, nor even imply, that this young man was over the legal limit. BAC stands for blood or breath alcohol content and CAN be determined by a blood test even when someone has passed. Get your facts straight or shut up. Better yet, since you've nothing constructive to contribute to the discussion surrounding this man's death, just be respectful and shut up.

jayhawkerincali 9 years ago

You know I just reread what I wrote, and it's too early in the morning for me to be posting things (still in the 9 o'clock hour here). Bad case of word vomit. Ignore me and my ignorance. But really, my thoughts are with the family, and I'm just going to go drink some coffee and stop saying stupid things now. :/

been_there 9 years ago

termtech215 (Anonymous) says: No judgment needed. He paid the ultimate price for something we have probably all done at least once. Very sad. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife and family.Sorry to burst your bubble, but I have never done it, not once, and I'm no spring chicken. But I'm not here to judge anyone else, he did pay the ultimate price, condolences to the family.

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