Law enforcement will be increasing patrols on Kansas Highway 10 after four people died during a six-day period in three separate accidents on the Douglas County portions of the highway.
"The focal point just seems to be driver's error," said Kansas Highway Patrol Master Trooper Terry Berner. "People need to not only slow down, but drive more defensively."
The two most recent fatalities were on the western leg of K-10, the bypass that connects the Lecompton interchange of the Kansas Turnpike with Iowa Street. Both accidents, which were 1 1/2 miles apart, occurred when an eastbound driver struck a westbound vehicle in the westbound lane.
Two people died in a Saturday night crash, when the driver of an eastbound SUV crossed the center line and struck a pickup truck, the highway patrol said. Multiple law enforcement agencies, from as far away as Kansas City, received calls about the SUV's erratic driving, Berner said. The SUV was driven by Daniel J. Harpool, 51, of Lake Lotawana, Mo.
Berner said autopsy results are pending, but it appeared either alcohol, a medical condition or both contributed to the crash.
"Alcohol was present," he said.
Both vehicles were fully engulfed in flames when emergency crews responded to the scene, west of the highway's intersection with Wakarusa Drive. Harpool and the driver of the pickup, Allen L. Eastland, 59, of Lawrence, died in the crash.
Eastland was an employee of Kansas University for about 15 years. He was an electrician in the department of student housing for 10 years. Before that, he worked for Facilities Operations.
The Kansas Highway Patrol is asking anyone with information on the accident to call its headquarters in Topeka, at (785) 296-3102.
On Thursday, 21-year-old James Keeton Jr. was killed on the K-10 bypass when the car he was driving collided with another. Keeton was passing a limousine when he crashed into an oncoming car, the Kansas Highway Patrol said. Keeton was a junior at KU from Wichita and was majoring in biology and history.
The driver of the second car, Maria Thorson, a 25-year old KU doctoral student, was seriously injured. She was test driving a car with John Revenew, 56, a Crown Automotive salesman, who was also injured.
"I have not driven on that road since it happened," said John Ready, while gassing up his car Monday before heading to Keeton's funeral in Wichita. "I'm a little bit afraid to. I've been a lot more careful."
K-10's stretch east of Lawrence also had some serious accidents in the past week. On Oct. 20, Eudora resident Helen Moorhead was killed in a two-vehicle accident, which also seriously injured Errin Lang, 38, the driver of the second car. The KHP said Lang lost control of her car, crossed the median and hit Moorhead.
On Wednesday, a two-vehicle accident on K-10 at Franklin Road sent Stephanie Rush, 23, of Eskridge, to Overland Park Regional Medical Center with injuries.
The accidents on K-10 east of the city continued this week. At 12:30 a.m. Monday, a 19-year-old Lawrence man was taken to the hospital with injuries after a rollover accident on the highway. Authorities said Eric Heikkila, the driver, swerved to miss an animal in the roadway at mile marker 12, near Eudora.
Two KHP administrators visited the scenes of the accidents on the K-10 bypass Monday, Berner said. Douglas County sheriff's deputies and KHP troopers said they would be intensifying their patrols on both stretches of the highway because of the accidents.