Archive for Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Two children killed, three people injured in Jefferson County car crash

One person was treated and released while the other two, one a child, remain in the hospital.

July 28, 2010, 10:33 a.m. Updated July 28, 2010, 4:26 p.m.


134th and Meriden Road
Two children were killed in a car crash on 134th and Meriden in Jefferson County on Wednesday, July 28, 2010.

Two children were killed in a car crash on 134th and Meriden in Jefferson County on Wednesday, July 28, 2010.

Two children were killed in a car crash on 134th and Meriden in Jefferson County on Wednesday, July 28, 2010.

Two children were killed in a car crash on 134th and Meriden in Jefferson County on Wednesday, July 28, 2010.

Two children were killed and three people — including another child — were injured in a car accident in rural Jefferson County on Wednesday morning.

A1996 Oldsmobile was traveling eastbound on 134th Street when it failed to yield to a 2002 Chevy TrailBlazer, which was traveling southbound on Meriden Road just before 8 a.m., a Kansas Highway Patrol report said.

The TrailBlazer struck the driver's side of the Oldsmobile, killing Katelynn Spencer, 8, and Alissa Spencer, 5, both of Meriden.

Madelynn Spencer, 4, was taken to Children's Mercy Hospital with critical injuries via LifeStar helicopter. The driver of the Oldsmobile, Stephanie Spencer, 33, was taken to Stormont Vail in serious condition, also via helicopter.

According to KHP, no one in the Oldsmobile was wearing a seat belt.

The driver of the TrailBlazer, Robert Hutchins, 27, of Valley Falls, was taken to Stormont Vail with non-life threatening injuries.

Officials at the scene said weeds growing near the intersection may have created a blind spot for drivers. Witnesses said the Oldsmobile did stop at the stop sign at the intersection and investigators found evidence at the scene to support those reports. Meriden Road does not have a stop sign at the intersection.


Danielle Brunin 7 years, 9 months ago

This makes me sick to my stomach. How awful!

Shockem211 7 years, 9 months ago

I instantly sent my sister a text to make sure it wasn't her and my niece. This is of course after my heart sank. My sympathies to the family members of these victims.

John Hamm 7 years, 9 months ago

Because this is news and it gives those who think someone they love or know might be involved the opportunity to start checking before getting the dreaded call. As you should well know names can't be released until next of kin is notified.

countrygirl 7 years, 9 months ago

Oh man. Please care enough about your children to be sure they are safely buckled in.

greenworld 7 years, 9 months ago

Topeka paper always gets names and ages before the lawrence paper does.

allamerican4ever 7 years, 9 months ago

topeka chases the ambulance on scooters ljw still has bicycle

Patrick Rooney 7 years, 9 months ago

Rip kids. Hope the other child and driver make it. Scary world we live in. Careful out there. Hope all familes involved know our prayers are with you. ~R

timster 7 years, 9 months ago

Thank You foe your thoughts, so far the little girl is alive but we dont know the damage done to her brain they say she did die on route but they revived her and have her at childrens mercy on life support so its hour by hour, the mother is in stormont vail on life support so the father is back and forth mostly staying with daughter but we all are taking turns visiting both, we have had our bad luck my son was killed in auto accident last year also, but alll our prayers go to chad and Stephanie.

sassypants 7 years, 9 months ago

"Officials at the scene said weeds growing near the intersection may have created a blind spot for drivers." You mean cornfield.

I hate it when you are at an intersection and cant see because of the corn that is 6-8 ft tall. Farmers should be required to omit a few rows where intersections are.

My Prayers to all involved.

countrygirl 7 years, 9 months ago

This says weeds, not crops. And that's still no excuse for running a stop sign even out in the country.

jackpot 7 years, 9 months ago

Reread the story and post WHO ran the stop sign. The olds did stop and the southbound blazer did not have a stop sign.

John Hamm 7 years, 9 months ago

Jackpot. Yesterday the paper reported the Oldsmobile did NOT stop. The article has been revised since original posting probably due to an update from law enforcement or witnesses.....

jackpot 7 years, 9 months ago

I posted before the update story read at that time Olds HAD stopped. Maybe from the 12:26 p.m. and my post the story was changed.

timster 7 years, 9 months ago

No she did not run the stop sign her view was blocked so she pulled out to see and boom it was to late. the child that did survive is in children s mercy and the mother is in stormont vail. and Yes I am related to them all. Timster

bd 7 years, 9 months ago

Very sad indeed!

weeds(corn) is not the issue, they should not have ran the stop sign! We all need to slow down!

LoveThsLife 7 years, 9 months ago

bd the article states that no one ran a stop sign. The Oldsmobile stopped, but the view was obstructed by weeds. The other vehicle didn't have a stop sign. So in fact, weeds could be a factoring issue if they obstructed the driver's view.

Patrick Rooney 7 years, 9 months ago

I agree. Buckle up and slow down such a waste of life over a few minutes late or something...

Rae Hudspeth 7 years, 9 months ago

Check the link: "Witnesses told investigators that the Oldsmobile did stop at the intersection. Investigators also found physical evidence at the scene that the Oldsmobile did come to a stop. "

Editor, please!

wmathews 7 years, 9 months ago

The story has been updated to reflect the change. Thanks for catching it.

Whitney Mathews Online Editor

davidmcg 7 years, 9 months ago

I called this in to LJ World this morning at 07:51AM when it happened. The woman that answered didn't seem interested. When I called back about 25 minutes later to tell her that there were 2 fatalities and a funeral home contacted, family had been notified, and where the 2 helicopters and ambulances were headed, she again did not seem interested. Never asked me on question either time I called. After my second call I emailed the managing editor. No reply yet. It took LJ World how long to post this information, 3 hours? LJ World not ready for prime time? Sure seems like it sometimes.

Jonathan Kealing 7 years, 9 months ago

Hi David--

You talked to Whitney Mathews, our online editor, who immediately discussed the situation with me. She'd tried to get Jefferson County emergency dispatchers and law enforcement to confirm what you'd reported, but they declined to do so. So, with nothing but an unknown caller telling us of an accident, we had no choice but to wait. It would be irresponsible to report a deadly accident just based on some person's word.

This accident happened outside our traditional coverage area, probably an hour's drive from Lawrence. We just don't have the resources to cover everything, so we rely on our news partners — in this case the journalists at KTKA in Topeka to confirm the story. The first version of the story was posted at 10:33 a.m.

Jonathan Kealing

davidmcg 7 years, 9 months ago

OK Jonathen, with your reply, next time I have a news tip I'll just call KTKA and tell them. By your response should I take it that you guys do not have scanners in your news room? If so, your newspaper would be the first that I have ever heard of that does not. But even so, the information from a scanner alone could not be used solely as a source. But you called JFCO dispatch and they were so busy they couldn't confirm or deny? I would say yes, in such a situation that they were busy. But did you try to call Life Flight, or Life Eagle or Life Net? I told her they had 2 helicopters enroute. Did you call KHP? Everybody knows that KHP responds to 90% of all traffic fatalities, especially when it involves ejections and children. Also, it is not an hour drive from Lawrence, maybe 45 minutes at best and this is after all in a county that borders your city and Lawrence is a business destination for roughly half of this county. Two and a half hours to confirm? Sorry, your response is not adequate.

Charlie Sabotage 7 years, 9 months ago

this is horrifying. What does a parent do when they lose a child let alone two and has a third in critical condition? i can't even imagine. R.I.P. small lovely children. And thoughts to the family

timster 7 years, 9 months ago

thank you very much for your thoughts, I will pass them along to the other family members, and yes its tough to lose your child and possibly your family. I lost my son in an auto accident last year and now we have more kids lost my family is getting smaller not bigger and there is question not being answered, I am a Pastor but it makes you kind of distant when things like this happen.

solitude518 7 years, 9 months ago

God Bless this family..such a horrible loss.

redmorgan 7 years, 9 months ago

My heart just sank when I read this headline. I will have to hug and kiss my child a few extra times today. Poor thoughts and prayers are with them.

LoveThsLife 7 years, 9 months ago

This is horrible. My thoughts are with all involved and their family members.

Deja Coffin 7 years, 9 months ago

This is absolutely horrible... my thoughts and prayers go out to all parties involved and their families. Do we know the ages of the victims? I know personal information may not be able to be given out yet but I was just curious on the non-specifics. I will be thinking of these families and praying for the recovery of the victims who are still alive.

onlymee 7 years, 9 months ago

p> ,it gives everyones name involved,,god bless all involved

LoveThsLife 7 years, 9 months ago

I just read the link. How horrible. Those kids should have been buckled up and some of them were young enough that they should have been in booster seats.

Buckle up!

WhiteDog 7 years, 9 months ago

I am sad and angry in equal measures. Two of the three children should have been in booster seats, and all three should have been in seatbelts. None of them were, and they all ended up ejected from their vehicle.

The vegetation at the intersection is not to blame here. That lies firmly on the mother's shoulders. Her true punishment will be, of course, that she is responsible for her children's deaths and injuries and she'll have to live with that her whole life. But she needs to be charged criminally as well.

Patrick Rooney 7 years, 9 months ago

well said. The punishment (if any) that the courts could give her will never campare to the life sentence she has. Im angry and sad.... I only can hope the other child makes it and the driver pulls through. RIP

LoveThsLife 7 years, 9 months ago

I've worked with kids who have had extensive brain injury due to being ejected out of vehicle. I hope the 4 year old heals okay...that's a long and very difficult road to go.

mommylovesyou 7 years, 9 months ago

I completely agree with WhiteDog. I am very saddened to here about these two little children losing their lives. My prayers are with this family. As far as the mother, my heart goes out for her, two of her babies are gone. But I also have to agree that there should be charges filed. There are to many children not wearing seatbelts. It is strictly the parents responsibility to make sure that their children are safe and buckled up before leaving. Letting this mother go without any charges, is telling the country that is alright not to buckle your kids up. Please, anyone reading this article, if you have children, next time you put them in the car BUCKLE THEM UP! Again, my prayers are with this family!

Amy Heeter 7 years, 9 months ago

So sad. There is always time to buckle up.

Patrick Rooney 7 years, 9 months ago

One moment of doubt casued a lifetime of hurt.. Buckle your kids up people, duct tape them if you have to. (not really) but be safe and smart. Preventable deaths.... Prayers to all envolved.

Kelly Johnson 7 years, 9 months ago

Sad. Angry. This shouldn't have happened.

I'm so sorry for all the surviving family members for this devastating loss.

I've seen at least 3 children not buckled in recently (three separate incidents). So frustrating.

Grundoon Luna 7 years, 9 months ago

Madam, that is where the blame lies! I, too, am sorry for her loss but she herself failed to exercise the diligence necessary to safely transport her children. I would never forgive myself if I were her, though I don't think I would be in her position as my children, or any children riding in my car for that matter, are required to be buckled in. It is quite possible that all of her chilred would have survived if properly restrained and if not, at least she would know she did at least buckled them in.

However, my sorrow for the family is overrident by my anger toward the mother. How could any mother be so irresponsible as to not have their children be in a car seat or buckled in? Elvis H. Presley! They give car seats away all the time to people in need. Thoughtless on her part, just thoughtless!

kernal 7 years, 9 months ago

Although some think charges should be filed against the mother, I would think the death of two of her children is punishment enough.

thepianoman 7 years, 9 months ago

LJWorld, you have done a terrible job reporting this story. I am so freaking confused about what happened. What sloppy, incompetent reporting you have done. Focus on getting the facts straight rather than being the first to post it.

This is inexcusable.

Kontum1972 7 years, 9 months ago

"STOP" signs mean nothing...."CROSSING GUARDS" during school season mean nothing.... but kill someone...then the reality comes thru....then it is too late....

come up on Kasold and catch the races, when a person is in the crosswalk cars enter the intersection slowly creeping up as the person is crossing and once that person has move out of that lane the car whizzes by... SoS folks.

I am sadden by the loss of these children. :-((

Deja Coffin 7 years, 9 months ago

I just can't stop thinking about this accident. I just want to cry and my heart aches so deeply for this mother and their family. This really hit close to home with me. My oldest daughter is 5 and about 6 months ago both my daughters age 5 and 3 years old were riding in a truck with their grandpa on a gravel road to my in-laws house when they were T-boned at an intersection that had no stop signs. It was right around sunset, both vehicles were totaled. Everyone in the truck were pinned in by the other vehicle and a wooden post. They had to rip the door off to get them out. Luckily my babies were in their car seats and both grown-ups involved were wearing their seat belts. The worse injury was an ugly bruise on my oldest daughters arm. But I can't stop sitting here and thinking about how lucky we were and what a horrible loss this family is going through. I just wish there was something I could do for this family when I know there's not a lot anyone can do or say. Is there an update on the youngest child? I've heard things but was wondering if there was something official. I will keep praying for this family and pray for the other driver. I'm sure he's going through a lot right now emotionally also even when there may have been nothing he could have done.

purplesage 7 years, 9 months ago

Meriden Road is K-4; unless distracted, I doubt she ran the stop sign as we sometimes see out in the country "where no one is coming anyhow." I wonder if Jefferson County or KDOT need to get on the stick and mow and cut down trees. I did see that crops had been cut back at Midland Junction where a similar obstruction occurred.

I lament the loss of life, especially because little ones were killed. A family has been decimated in any instant - a reminder of the fragile nature of life. I hope and pray the mother and remaining daughter recover physically and know there will be wounds of the heart which will always be with the family as well as the SUV's driver.

By the way, channel 6, the individual you identify as Tim McCool, KHP is actually Sheriff Jeff Herrig.

purplesage 7 years, 9 months ago

WhiteDog - How unbelievably insensitive. The woman has lost 2 of her children. We haven't read about the dad yet, or the grandparents. Isn't this punishment enough. Charged criminally - how about a little compassion? If she survives, the question of whether the children may have lived because of a seat belt / restraint seat will ALWAYS be with her. What you you do? Lock her up and take her away from the other daughter, if she survives?

timster 7 years, 9 months ago

thank you for your blessings I will pass them on to the other family members.

timster 7 years, 9 months ago

thank you for your blessings I will pass them on to the other family members.

timster 7 years, 9 months ago

thank you for your blessings I will pass them on to the other family members. if any one would like to have more information or contribute to a memorial fund you can contact me at I am related to the family and see the father daily so I will pass on any prayers.

nanimwe 7 years, 9 months ago

I thought the new seat belt law was supposed to eliminate this kind of tragedy... So much for legislation actually working.

purplesage 7 years, 9 months ago

Good questions, each of them deserving an answer more complete than the one I am going to give:

I hope none of you ever endures the pain of losing a child in a traffic accident (or from any other cause, for that matter) but it does affect one's point of view on this question of "chargeability". I know.

There is neglect in not using restraints - but it is not the kind that is associated with some of the awful things children endure at the hands of adults in their lives.

The weeds have no moral accountability - yet they could well be a factor. What about trees and power poles that stand a matter of feet from traveled right of way? They ought to be cut down or moved a safe distance.

Yes, I do think that the closeness of relationship affects this question to some degree. It isn't the same thing as if someone got intoxicated and drove . . . and killed innocent people.

Accidents do happen. It is a part of life in an imperfect and broken world. There are always ways, some more egregious than others, in which things could have been prevented. Not everything has to become a criminal matter. Can you imagine the torment this family is enduring - and how their grief would be unspeakably compounded by the spectacle of a trial.

And yes, I cringe when I see children sandwiched between a parent and a steering wheel loaded with an air bag.

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