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Archive for Friday, September 25, 2009

KHP reverses finding in K-10 fatal crash

Woman wasn’t going wrong way, after all

The mother of a KU student killed in a car accident is fighting to clear her daughter's name after the Highway Patrol mistakenly blamed the 26-year-old for the deadly wreck.

September 25, 2009




A Kansas Highway Patrol report for a Sept. 12 double-fatality accident on Kansas Highway 10 now says an Olathe man was the driver who was headed the wrong way — instead of a 26-year-old Lawrence woman.

The highway patrol originally reported that Kara Louise Morgan, a Kansas University student, was at fault in the 3 a.m. accident on K-10, about 2 miles west of De Soto. The patrol had said she was driving a 2003 Volkswagen Jetta east in the westbound lanes and struck a westbound 2000 Toyota Camry, driven by Eric Tyler Sill, 20, of Olathe.

But that wasn’t the case.

Thursday morning, the patrol’s online accident log listed Sill as the driver who was headed east in the westbound lanes.

Brian Russell, a Lawrence attorney who is a Morgan family friend, confirmed that troopers visited Morgan’s parents last week at their Holton home. The troopers told Bob and Connie Morgan their daughter had not been driving in the wrong lanes before the head-on crash.

“What makes me sad is we buried our daughter thinking she was at fault and that she took someone else’s life,” Mrs. Morgan said Thursday.

Both drivers, who were wearing seat belts, died from injuries they received in the crash. The patrol has released no further details about the wreck.

The Journal-World left messages that were not returned Thursday for the troopers in Olathe who investigated the wreck. Capt. Art Wilburn, of the agency’s public and governmental affairs section, said he would need information from those troopers to comment.

Morgan said troopers last week apologized and told her that initially they inferred her daughter’s car was headed the wrong way because of how the vehicles were facing. But she said an accident reconstruction team determined the impact point on each car was on the front driver’s side, and so the cars spun after the collision.

She also said troopers told her neither driver likely saw the collision coming because they found no skid marks on the road.

Connie Morgan said her daughter had sent her a text message earlier that night saying she was in the Kansas City area with some friends. She said toxicology reports were pending as part of the autopsies on both her daughter and Sill. Those reports typically take several weeks.

At the time of his death, Sill was taking classes at Kansas City Kansas Community College.

For two years, Kara Morgan had been a student at KU, where she was studying sports management.

“I feel relieved now that my daughter’s name is cleared,” Connie Morgan said. “But I feel sad for the Sill family knowing what they are going through now, because I had these same feelings for a week.”

In the midst of a heart-breaking ordeal for both families, Morgan said it does offer a lesson for parents.

“They just need to keep in contact with their kids and just tell them that they love them,” she said.


jonas_opines 6 years, 2 months ago

It's a nice thought, but in practical aspect all it will mean for some here is that they have to go back and change their gender pronouns in previous posts.

infidel 6 years, 2 months ago

A 2003 Volkswagen Jetta and a 2000 Toyota Camry would most likely not leave skid marks as they probably have ABS brakes. I wonder when investigators will realize that most cars made in the last two decades don’t leave skid marks. I fought a battle in the mid 90’s with an insurance company because my vehicle didn’t leave any skid marks.

Sad situation for all involved

Alia Ahmed 6 years, 2 months ago

A story in the University Daily Kansan this past Monday stated that the KHP had clarified that Ms. Morgan was not driving in the wrong direction as previously believed. I wondered if this story had run in the LJW earlier and I had just missed it.

compmd 6 years, 2 months ago

Infidel, Cars with ABS can leave skidmarks, they are just short and repeated. Look up how ABS works.

ferrislives 6 years, 2 months ago

cheeseburger: You are right on about the KHP racing to judgment, but didn't everyone else in that forum do the same? And I can't say I'm any better when I hear "facts" from officials on cases such as this. It's good that you apologized though.

My prayers are with both families!

domino 6 years, 2 months ago

KHP apparently released preliminary findings and now have released their final report. They completed their investigation and did what was necessary to make the facts known. If they had not released any sort of preliminary report, what would have the posters on this board had to say? KHP not doing their job - KHP covering something up - KHP (enter your own dig)

To me, it shows the KHP is doing their job by doing a complete investigation. If they were not doing their job, it would have been left at the preliminary findings.

I'm glad the truth came out, but my heart goes out to both families. This is a tragic situation for both of them.

racerx 6 years, 2 months ago

Didn't KHP talk to any family and friends immediately following the accident before announcing their conclusions? Seems like someone from each side could have told investigators where each driver was coming from/going to? Somebody was with each person before the accident that night. In this story, Morgan's mother said her daughter had told her earlier that she was in KC with friends. So how would she have been going east in the westbound lane? Were both drivers in KC that night and Sill somehow got turned around somewhere along the way? Sounds to me like the KHP made their conclusion at the accident scene and didn't do a full investigation by making some simple phone calls.

imastinker 6 years, 2 months ago

I don't know much about this story or any speculation - but ABS cars will lock up. If they go into a sideways skid, the tires are not turning and this will make skid marks, but ABS is not always able to allow the tire to move, especially if traction is very poor.

ferrislives 6 years, 2 months ago

I'm with you cheeseburger. The fact that the family stated that they buried their daughter while thinking of what she supposedly had done says a lot. The KHP should have told everyone that they're still investigating, and they'll release their final findings at a later time.

domino: I agree that the public has an immediate and unjustified "want to know now" attitude, but that doesn't mean that the KHP should lessen their professionalism because of it. The fact that the KHP felt they needed to apologize to the family says it all domino. But I'm glad that they stood up and apologized. Sadly, I'm not sure that the LPD would have done the same.

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