Several businesses were evacuated, and one victim was transported to Kansas University Hospital in Kansas City by air ambulance Thursday night after a one-vehicle accident caused a natural gas leak near the intersection of Sixth Street and Lawrence Avenue.
According to Lawrence police, about 9:45 p.m., a vehicle struck Kobe Japanese Steakhouse, 2907 W. Sixth St., causing a natural gas leak.
The vehicle hit the natural gas meter and the north side of the structure near the restaurant's kitchen.
The victim of the accident was transported about 10 p.m. from the scene by air ambulance. The helicopter landed at Centennial Park, near the intersection of Sixth and Rockledge. According to initial reports, the victim suffered serious injuries.
After the accident, Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical crews worked to shut off gas to the area while evacuating the restaurant and several nearby businesses.
According to Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical, the businesses evacuated included the Lawrence Suitel, Willie's Bar, and the Virginia Inn.
The patrons of the two evacuated hotels were relocated to the Rodeway Inn, located on Sixth Street just east of the scene. Once the affected hotels were cleared, guests were given the choice to return to their rooms.
By 11:10 p.m., gas and electricity were shut off and crews were testing the level of gas remaining in the air. The gas line could not be shut off near the site of the accident because of the large amount of gas leaking from the rupture. Crews had to trace the line to the north side of Sixth Street where they shut off the gas flow.
Traffic was diverted from the stretch of Sixth Street between Lawrence Avenue and Crestline Drive while crews worked.
At midnight, Westar was restoring power to businesses in the area, and buildings were preparing to reopen. By 1:40 a.m., Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical had removed the gas from the restaurant and turned the building over to its owners.
No further information was available on the victim's condition early Friday.