Archive for Monday, April 5, 2010

One dies, two injured in motorcycle-car accident on Kansas Turnpike

One man was killed and two people were injured in a motorcycle vs. car accident Sunday night. The driver of the motorcycle was taken by air ambulance to Kansas University Hospital, where his wife said he was pronounced dead.

April 5, 2010, 1:50 p.m. Updated April 5, 2010, 4:21 p.m.


The driver of a motorcycle involved in a Sunday night's car and motorcycle wreck in the eastbound lanes of the Kansas Turnpike near the west Lawrence exit has died, his wife said Monday afternoon.

Theresa Trafton said her husband, James, died about 2 p.m. Monday at Kansas University Hospital in Kansas City, Kan.

According to a Kansas Turnpike Authority report, just before 8 p.m. Barry L. Williams, 62, of Kansas City, Mo., became distracted by his dog inside his 2002 Nissan car as Williams was accelerating on the turnpike’s entry ramp into the eastbound lanes.

Williams’ car veered out of the acceleration lane to the right and hit some sand, where he lost control and struck the median wall. Immediately after the Nissan struck the wall, an eastbound 2008 Harley Davidson motorcycle struck the car, according to the report.

James Trafton, 58, of Kansas City, Kan., was driving the motorcycle, and was flown to Kansas University Hospital in Kansas City, Kan., via helicopter ambulance, a KTA dispatcher said.

Trafton was a leader of the Kansas Army National Guard and in 2006 led a battalion to Iraq.

Trafton was a full-time Guardsman and a career soldier. He was a Vietnam veteran, where he served with the Army's 1st Cavalry Division. He's earned several service medals as well as Bronze Stars from Vietnam and Iraq. He leaves behind his wife and four daughters.

Williams and a passenger, Sharla K. Williams, 59, were taken to Lawrence Memorial Hospital, where they were treated and released, said Belinda Rehmer, an LMH spokeswoman.


CreatureComforts 8 years, 1 month ago

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

bearded_gnome 8 years, 1 month ago

According to a Kansas Turnpike Authority report, just before 8 p.m. Barry L. Williams, 62, of Kansas City, Mo., became distracted by his dog inside his 2002 Nissan car as Williams was accelerating on the turnpike’s entry ramp into the eastbound lanes.

---charge with distracted driving?

ljworld, condition of the dog?


this accident certainly could have been far worse for the people involved!
if you're driving, maybe your dog should be secured?
safer for you, and for Rover.

palmettostar 8 years, 1 month ago

Far worse? Someone lose their life because of the person who was distracted by their dog!

Trafton was a good friend of my dad's and served with him in Iraq. Last I heard via a phone call he was being taken off life support.

hip_gma 8 years, 1 month ago

palmettostar: I am so sorry to hear that about Mr. Trafton. My prayers to his family and to your dad.

Deja Coffin 8 years, 1 month ago

My thoughts go out to Mr. Trafton and his family. Palmettostar, please understand the person that made the previous comment obviously made it based on the information in the article and it didn't state that Mr. Trafton's condition. No disrespect to anyone involved.

MuddyFeet 8 years, 1 month ago

Palmettostar is correct - my husband works closely with Jim Trafton and he, and others from their office, have been at the hospital with his family for most of the day. Quite a tragedy for everyone.

OBDOBIE 8 years, 1 month ago

Col.Trafton is a great man. My husband served with him.Col.Trafton was always so nice to all the familes. We have lost a GREAT MAN!!.Our prayers our with him and his family.

As for the driver that hit him.My husband and I raise and show dogs.We keep telling people it's great to take the dogs and cats for a ride but put them in a crate there safe your safe and thing like this don't happen.

anonoymus 8 years, 1 month ago

I'm sure these folks feel aweful and my heart goes out to them, but it still makes my Blood BOIL !!!!!! A DOG caused this accident???? They are Not children but maybe we should consider passing a bill to treat them that way so that animals have to be strapped down while being a "passanger" in a vehicle. Same as Cell phones, they are a distraction, either way you look at it.

The Army community has suffered a HUGE loss with Trafton's passing and we are all in complete SHOCK that our Hero, Mentor, Friend, A Vietnam and Iraq vet had to go out this way, all because of a distraction over a dog.

John Hamm 8 years, 1 month ago

Automobile drivers: Don't look Don't think Don't care

KEITHMILES05 8 years, 1 month ago

Dollars to donuts Fred Phelps and his nitwits will be at the funeral. Somebody this clan is going to go over the line and that'll be the end of them.

bearded_gnome 8 years, 1 month ago

Palmettostar, there was no mention of Col. Trafton's condition when I posted and I most certainly did not mean any disrespect.

what I did mean was that in that situation the two in the distracted driver's car could've been severely hurt or killed, and being in that location could have easily included other people, many other people, in this accident. all because of an unrestrained dog!

God comfort all of you who have lost this hero.

anonoymus 8 years, 1 month ago

Bearded_gnome -

Thank you for your sincere words. I believe emotions are at a HIGH right now for all of those affected by this tragic loss. Incredibly hard to wrap our heads around right now.

ivalueamerica 8 years, 1 month ago

Trafton was a leader of the Kansas Army National Guard and in 2006 led a battalion to Iraq.

Trafton was a full-time Guardsman and a career soldier. He was a Vietnam veteran, where he served with the Army's 1st Cavalry Division. He's earned several service medals as well as Bronze Stars from Vietnam and Iraq.

RIP, a true American hero

greggjakety 8 years, 1 month ago

This was my Brother-in-law that was killed! if that's not hard enough to deal with, now to find out it was caused by a distraction from a dog. What is the #1 thing you are suppose to do when you are driving?? (FOCUS ON THE ROAD) Now, My Sister and Jim's, Daughters and Grandchildren are without their Husband, Father, and Grandfather, This really BITES!

He was truely an American Hero! and taken way before his time! Rest in peace - Greg

harleycowboy 8 years, 1 month ago


fiercesomeus 8 years, 1 month ago

LJW please accept my apology if I misread the article but could you please tell me what Mr. Trafton's first name is please.

LoveThsLife 8 years, 1 month ago

My prayers are with the family, friends and associates of Mr. Trafton. I am so sorry for your loss.

billreeves 8 years, 1 month ago

my Brothers name is Col. James Edwin Trafton

missinks 8 years, 1 month ago

I did not know Col Trafton personally but knew him through stories from family. He was truly an American Hero and served his country with pride!! My heart goes out to his family and extended famlies in the military. I pray comfort and strength over them in this time of grief!! I will keep you all in my prayers throughout the coming days and weeks.

christopherhess 8 years, 1 month ago

Probably the most likely expression of American incivility occurs on Interstates. Driving in general demonstrates the incivility, but Interstates in particular express the degree of selfishenss reinging in our society. Motorcyclists: we have a fantastic state highway network. Please consider using these state highways as your path of travel.

anonoymus 8 years, 1 month ago

Christopher Hess !!!

When your a Vietnam and Iraq War veteran, and you've put your life on the line for men and women like you and I so that we can have this discussion....... You can ride your Motorcylce ANYWHERE you DAMN WELL PLEASE....

I find it hard to relate to your idea, somehow justifying it's Comepletely ok to have an animal unrestrained in a vehicle- but a motorcyclist should stay off a major roadway ????

Whether it was a Motorcyle or Regular Motorcar that was hit by the driver - an accident was caused by a DOG !!!!!!!! This needs to become a LAW in all states, that for the safety of the occupants driving and others on the roadways, all animals should be caged or restrained when the vehicle is being operated.

RCTR 8 years, 1 month ago

COL Trafton was a very wonderful human being. I mixed breed of rough and caring. He went out of his way several times to makes things better for a few guys that were nearly out of it. I cannot think of another leader that reminds me of him. God Bless The Trafton Family.

bearded_gnome 8 years, 1 month ago

According to a Kansas Turnpike Authority report, just before 8 p.m. Barry L. Williams, 62, of Kansas City, Mo., became distracted by his dog inside his 2002 Nissan car as Williams was accelerating on the turnpike’s entry ramp into the eastbound lanes.

---Hey Branson [our floppy DA] this qualify for vehicular homicide?

obviously a charge of distracted driving!

will you do something?

Anonoymus, of course you're having rouble getting your heads around this, I understand first hand: my father died in a traffic accident when I was 16.
be sure you talk, talk to each other, others wo've been through this, and a counselor who is spiritual if you wish or a mental health counselor. grief is not easy, give yourself the slack to go through it.
God bless you man. and I thank God for men like Col. Trafton every day. freedom is sure not free.

Shardwurm 8 years, 1 month ago


You were a great American. You were one of those guys who no one really knows but to whom so much was owed.

You promoted me to Major in Pinon Canyon in 1995 and I still have the picture of you cutting off my Captain's rank with a bayonet.

"first kansas !!!!!!!!!!!! volunteers by god!"

I coined that phrase while commanding D Co, 1-137th (later D Co 2-137th)...and it never applied more than it does now. Jim was a volunteer BY GOD!!!!

Most of you can't volunteer enough to pick up your own trash...but here was a man who laid it all on the line for you not once...but twice!

Godspeed Jim...I'll see you on the other side.


bigdave 8 years, 1 month ago

R.I.P. Col. James Edwin Trafton you where a true American Hero! God Bless You

anonoymus 8 years, 1 month ago

Williams was accelerating down the off ramp when he lost control. If he hit the median, he would have had to cross 3 lanes to do so. Trafton was not following Williams at a close distance - the Nissan simply crossed in front of him Making him a sitting duck and no reaction time to get to a clear path.

Williams I'm sure is a great man and I do applaud him or his honesty, he didn't Have to tell the police his dog distracted him, he could have made up another excuse and lied. I'm sure the Williams are in their own missery.

The laws just need to be changed so that this doesn't happen again to another innocent person.

kansasmutt 8 years, 1 month ago

Rest in peace Col. Your now riding on the big highway with God himself. The earth lost a hero and God gained a hero, and a great riding partner. Lord look out for James and lead him on the highways of heaven. He is a great man, and will serve you well as an angel to protect others who ride , Amen

stacy yazzie 8 years, 1 month ago

Condolences to all Col. Trafton's family and friends---from citizens in lawrence ks--- @ kansasmutt - well said, amen!

Deja Coffin 8 years, 1 month ago

My thoughts and prayers go out to all of Col. Trafton's friends and family. He sounds like a great guy that anyone would be honored to know. Who knows, maybe there could be a law passed in his honor that requires all pets riding in vehicles to be restrained. I don't know how you'd go about that but just an idea. I know my dog carrier is always in the back of the van for times when we want to bring our dog with us. My thoughts also go out to the other driver, this will be a very hard lesson for him to learn and I pray for him as well.

Bikermatt 8 years, 1 month ago

Regarding this terrible tragedy:

As a Biker and Vet myself, I have lost many friends over the years (in the Army and on the highway) and my heart and respects go out to the family, friends and colleagues of Col Trafton. I am very sorry for your loss. Please understand that I am not addressing any of my comments toward you.

To those who don’t know Mr. Williams or Col. Trafton and who feel the need to sound-off there are a few things you might want to know about Mr. Williams:

  1. He is a biker himself
  2. He is NOT some irresponsible loser but a hard-working family man
  3. He is one of the most tenderhearted men I have ever met.
  4. I am sure that he is SICK with grief about this.

Did Mr. Williams do something wrong? I don’t know... but I know that he never would have wanted this to happen… to ANYONE…let alone a man of Col. Trafton’s demonstrated valor…or especially to a fellow biker.

mhowell 8 years, 1 month ago

COL Trafton was a true American hero and citizen soldier! I served with hiim for many years in the 2/137th Infantry, KSARNG. He was a leader among leaders.

Having ridden motorocycles for many years I truly understand the dangers and problems with other drivers. I understand what the report is of what happened, but we need to allow the criminal justice system to do it;s work. This driver, through his inattention to the requirements for operating a motor vehicle safely, has cost America the life of one of our true heroes. I can only hope the courts provide an immediate and proper sentence for this driver. Through his ignorance and lack of attention to his primary task of safe driving he has taken a hero from our midst.

COL Trafton, rest in peace. You have earned your wings now...

armywife 8 years, 1 month ago

Pywacket, I'd have to disagree with your post above. The driver of the Nissan knowingly did do something hazardous that could have prevented COL Trafton's death. He had his dog in the car unrestrained. You can not tell me that he didn't forsee an unrestrained dog as a potential driving hazzard. I don't care how well behaived your dog is or even if they're trained, you can not predict what an animal is going to do or not do especially in a moving vehicle. So yes the driver of the Nissan did knowlingly cause this tragedy and should be held responsible for his actions. As for the comments about COL Trafton possibly following to closely, if you read the article again it states that the Nissan was merging onto the turnpike from the West Lawrence entry ramp into the eastbound lanes, when the Nissan's driver was distracted by his dog and hit a patch of sand which caused him to hit the median wall. I take that exit frequently and there is very little visability of the traffic coming off this ramp onto the turnpike. This off ramp offers very little error when merging onto the turnpike, on top of that there is absolutely no shoulder to take if you see an oncoming accident, what would be the shoulder of the turnpike is made up of concrete barriers. So as the Nissan merged the driver got distracted by his unrestrained dog, hit the patch of sand, immediately followed by hitting the median. COL Trafton is riding his Harley down the turnpike and within seconds this accident happens right there in front of him. It happened so quickly, it was dark, visability is limited, there is nowhere to go except forward and within seconds you have to decide what to do. Well you can't go off to the shoulder because there isn't one and the Nissan came out of nowhere and it doesn't sound like the Nissan yielded to oncoming traffic because his unrestrained dog distracted him. So Pywacket where in the hell do you expect COL Trafton to go if he even did see the Nissan all happened within seconds I was told and COL Trafton and his family are all inncoent victims in this tragedy. COL Trafton had no way of stopping or slowing down, he hit the car almost immediately. The National Guard has lost a great Warrior, leader, friend and mentor. His family has lost a wonderful father, grandfather, son and uncle. Forgive me if I can't show much empathy to the driver of the Nissan, was it an accident, yes it was, but it was without a doubt an accident that could have been prevented. COL Trafton, may you rest in peace, you'll be greatly missed by us all.

armywife 8 years, 1 month ago

Theresa my apologies, COL Trafton was also a very loving husband to his wife, Theresa. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

feetup 8 years, 1 month ago

There are laws that kids cant ride unrestrained and not at all in the back of a pick up like we did when i was a kid. Are there any laws about dogs in the back of trucks unrestrained? or in cars? My dog rides with me in the car, un restrained i admit, but always in the back seat. My point is it never occurred to me until NOW that he could distract me just as a child would in the car and cause me to have an accident. Seriously. I may sound like a flake for admitting that, but i'm going to find out how to properly restrain him in the car. i wear a seat belt what about him?

My heart goes out to Col. Trafton's family and friends, please know people all over the state are praying for you!

armywife 8 years, 1 month ago

Feetup, almost all pet stores carry dog seatbelts and they do work. They cost very little and are easy to put on your existing seat belt. Thank you for being aware and for wanting to do something to keep this from happening again.

Brandon Devlin 8 years, 1 month ago

Godspeed, sir. We'll miss you.

Devlin E/2-137IN 1989-1999

anonoymus 8 years, 1 month ago

Bikermatt -

The first sentence of my first comment stated, that my heart goes out to the Williams Family. A tragedy such as this can make a person feel so horrible, such grief that it could cause them to take their own life, believing that others Hate or Blame them. Please know, that this is not what I'm stating or trying to accomplish. I do NOT want him to be harshly punished, I believe that he will be punished enough by having to go thru life with this on his mind. My mindset is not that Mr. Williams set out that day to Intentionally hurt someone, it was an accident. But one that many of us believe could have been prevented.

However, I do want everyone to talk about it !!!! I want this to be a lesson learned to all who are reading it, hear about it, or see it on the news. I want more laws in place to ensure the saftey of all those who travel on the roads. I myself was almost hit twice last week by two different drivers who had their cell phones on top of the steering wheel texting and crossed the center line. NO ONE is safe on the roads anymore. We need stricter laws enforced. Illegal to talk or text while on the phone. Animals should be belted or caged, etc.

Trafton's death is a shock not only because of Who he was and what he did for our country, but because of all he survived in life. Vietnam and Iraq. It leaves all of us who knew and loved him wondering HOW did this happen. He went thru all that hardship to be taken out in a manner such as this.

Let this be a lesson to us all, let us talk about it to others and educate them... so that two other families lives will not be shattered.

medicRN 8 years, 1 month ago

I am an RN and in the Kansas Guard as a medic. I stopped to help before the EMS arrived. It was not Col.Trafton’s fault in any way. No one following the speed limit and following at a safe distance could have stopped. I lost my husband in a motorcycle accident and my present husband is active duty, deployed 3 times. What BS that this man makes it through multiple wars and dies due to a dog. I am grateful to have been with him on that road, and it brings tears to this soldier’s eye to hear of his death, I wish there was more I could have done. Honor this great man, respect him, and remember him. RIP Sir.

sadden 8 years, 1 month ago

medicRN Please give me some contact info. I know for a fact that Trafton's wife would love to speak to someone who truly understands.

Shardwurm 8 years, 1 month ago

The driver made a mistake. It happens every day. I make mistakes constantly. Fortunately none has cost anyone their life. I knew Jim pretty well back in the day and I think I say with certainty that he was the kind of guy who have forgiven.

Well, first he would chew the other guy's a**...then he'd forgive him.

mstewart 8 years, 1 month ago

Two tours and the home roads are the one that gets you - ain't that a BH. My next glass of punch is for the Colonel. Prost!

Sgt. Stewart, B 2/137 1990-1996.

driver234 8 years, 1 month ago

Jim was my cousin.............he was a GREAT guy!! We love you Jim.............ALWAYS rememberd NEVER forgotten.

tjohnson 8 years, 1 month ago

Such a tragedy for all parties involved. My thoughts and prayers go out to both families.

I don't personally know Col. Trafton, but I'd like to thank him for his service to this great country. I'm so sorry for his family's loss.

I do personally know Mr. Williams though. I'm a coworker of his, and all I can say with out a shred of doubt that he is stricken with grief right now. As BikerMatt said, he's a very tenderhearted man and a biker himself. Stuff happens. This is just a tragic accident that could have happened to anyone. I personally can admit that I've never put my dog in restraints while she's in the car. I don't think I know anyone that does. It's a shame that it had to happen at all, but just remember that it could have happened to anyone.

It's easy to label someone a monster and an inconsiderate, irresponsible person when you're sitting at a computer passing judgement on someone you don't know. Put a face to that person and your opinion might change.

Again, this is a tragic accident for ALL families involved, and I pray that they find the strength to overcome this horrible situation.

kellyk 8 years, 1 month ago

I am deeply saddened by the loss of this great Man, I did not know him but still I mourn the loss for the family he left behind. My prayers and my thoughts are with you...

Deja Coffin 8 years, 1 month ago

tjohnson, maybe both families can have some peace in knowing that this accident has made a lot of people think differently about animals riding in cars. While I always kept my dog in a carrier, I know many people that don't and never thought twice about it. In fact, I think the only reason I ever thought about it was the first time we had the dog in the car he kept trying to get on laps while driving. I think it'd be great to have stricter laws regarding animals in the vehicle only because now I see how this can effect a person's driving. I hope that you know that not everyone is passing judgment on him and some are praying for him just as we pray for Col. Trafton's family. We all can learn from this just as it takes something like this to help us realize the importance of wearing a seat belt or not talking on the phone while driving.

anonoymus 8 years, 1 month ago

A Message from the State Chaplain honoring Col Jim Trafton.

The Kansas National Guard suffered a great loss in the death of Colonel (R) Jim Trafton. For those of us who have served for a decade or more, the idea that Jim is no longer with us is simply impossible. Jim Trafton served with integrity and distinction and was a soldier’s soldier and a soldier’s commander. Jim was bigger than life itself with a spirit that spoke that no mission was too much, too hard or beyond the reach of the well trained.

Over the last 72 hours we have all had moments of asking the question why? After three combat tours and any number of other dangerous assignments, not to mention his love of sports cars and motorcycles, Jim was killed in a way which defies logic. We move today from shock to grief as we consider the pain of his family and loved ones and those who knew him best.

In the 91st Psalm David reminds us that even in death, God continues to love us: You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,* will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.’ For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence; he will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, or the arrow that flies by day, or the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or the destruction that wastes at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.

Because you have made the Lord your refuge,* the Most High your dwelling-place, no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent. I encourage each of you to pause today and tomorrow and reflect about our brother who lived his life to the fullest, who honored his family and his country with his own integrity of thought and action. Consider the joy of life and its many mysteries and know that in death as in life God is with you.

May our brother rest in peace and may we celebrate his life and the honor of knowing and serving with him.

btnkkca 8 years, 1 month ago

Barry Williams is my father, so I can tell you first-hand that he is tore up about what has happened. And rightfully so. My father is a very caring individual that always puts the needs of others before himself, and would never intentionally harm anyone. As others have posted, he is a loving, family oriented individual who does ride himself. I think many who have posted are perhaps too quick to judge. As always there are more details than what you read in the papers, and there are also some incorrect statements out there.

I was there when the accident occured, I watched it happen in my rearview mirror. It was exactly that, an accident. A horrific accident. And I do agree, one that could have been avoided. I am 100% behind a law requiring animals to be restrained in a vehicle, and I hope to have some part in pushing that law through. Unfortunately it is a lesson learned the hard way, and one that I do not care to see anyone else learn in this manner.

As for the family and friends of Col. Trafton that are left behind, my sincerest apologies and deepest condolences. He sounds like an absolutely wonderful man and soldier, I wish I could have had the honor of knowing him. Colonel, thank you for your service and the impact you have left on the other soldiers of this country. RIP. I think this tragedy happened to the least-deserving man possible. As a 14 year veteran myself, I wish I could have served under an individual as great as Col. Trafton. The closest individual I can name that compares is Col. O'Toole, who also was tragically taken before his time. It seems that men of this caliber are a rare find.

My prayer is that my parents can overcome their grief, and live life to its fullest in honor of Col. Trafton. I know his stories have inspired me to be a better man, I can only hope to someday be the man he was.

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American Hero killed by a DOG! by medicRN 8 years, 1 month ago

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