Archive for Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Charges likely to be filed Wednesday in connection with fatality accident north of Lawrence

Truck was allegedly stolen before wreck

Investigators evaluate the scene of a fatality accident involving a stolen vehicle on U.S. 59 northwest of Lawrence Municipal Airport on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010.

Investigators evaluate the scene of a fatality accident involving a stolen vehicle on U.S. 59 northwest of Lawrence Municipal Airport on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010.

November 23, 2010, 7:33 a.m. Updated November 23, 2010, 6:24 p.m.

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Accident involving stolen vehicle on U.S. 59

Investigators evaluate the scene of an accident involving a stolen vehicle on U.S. 59 northwest of the Lawrence Municipal Airport on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010. Enlarge video

Skid marks lead to a smashed car on U.S. 59 north of Lawrence on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010. Douglas County Sheriff's officials said at least one person died in the accident, which involved a stolen vehicle.

Skid marks lead to a smashed car on U.S. 59 north of Lawrence on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010. Douglas County Sheriff's officials said at least one person died in the accident, which involved a stolen vehicle.

This blue Toyota Tundra was stolen from a USA Today delivery driver on the Kansas University campus on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010. The truck was then involved in a fatality crash on U.S. 59 north of Lawrence that same morning.

This blue Toyota Tundra was stolen from a USA Today delivery driver on the Kansas University campus on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010. The truck was then involved in a fatality crash on U.S. 59 north of Lawrence that same morning.

A damaged barrier sits on the sidewalk behind Wescoe Hall on the Kansas University campus on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010. The barrier was damaged when a USA Today delivery truck was stolen about 3:40 a.m. The vehicle ultimately ended up being involved in a deadly accident on U.S. Highway 24/59 north of Lawrence.

A damaged barrier sits on the sidewalk behind Wescoe Hall on the Kansas University campus on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010. The barrier was damaged when a USA Today delivery truck was stolen about 3:40 a.m. The vehicle ultimately ended up being involved in a deadly accident on U.S. Highway 24/59 north of Lawrence.

E. 1450 Road north of N. 1900 Road

It’s anticipated formal charges will be filed today against a 23-year-old Arkansas man who is under arrest in connection with a Tuesday morning hit-and-run accident that killed one person.

Sgt. Steve Lewis, a Douglas County Sheriff’s spokesman, said the suspect was driving a 2008 Toyota Tundra pickup truck that rear-ended a 1999 Mazda 626 car. The accident occurred about 3:40 a.m. on U.S. Highway 24-59 north of Lawrence.

Capt. Schuyler Bailey, a Kansas University Public Safety office spokesman, said officers believe the pickup truck was stolen before the accident from the 1400 block of Jayhawk Boulevard, which is in front of Watson Library on the KU campus.

According to jail records, the suspect — Zachary Tyler Harrison from Cabot, Ark. — was booked into jail on charges of involuntary manslaughter, three counts of aggravated battery, leaving the scene of an injury accident and one count of failing to report an accident. Prosecutors will make the decision about formal charges.

Bailey said police did not think Harrison has any connection to KU.

Lewis said four 21-year-old men from Nebraska were in the car. A back-seat passenger later died from his injuries at Kansas University Hospital in Kansas City, Kan. Another back-seat passenger was taken to KU Hospital via ground ambulance.

The driver and front-seat passenger were both taken to Lawrence Memorial Hospital. Their injuries were not believed to be life-threatening, Lewis said.

Officials did not release the names of the men in the car.

Officers allege Harrison drove from the accident scene. He was later stopped and detained by police.

Lewis said the suspect was tested for alcohol, which is standard procedure in a fatality accident.

Lewis and Bailey said they didn’t believe the driver of the pickup was being pursued by officers before the crash.

“The investigation is still going on,” Lewis said. “From the interviews, it appears the driver of the Mazda was aware that there was a vehicle behind him, but he wasn’t aware that he was going to be struck.”

Sheriff’s officers worked much of Tuesday morning at the accident scene. Both lanes of U.S. 24-59 were closed between North 1900 Road and Midland Junction and reopened around noon, Lewis said.

Chris Bell, the Journal-World’s circulation manager, said the owner of the private pickup truck that was stolen was an independent contract newspaper carrier who was taking four different newspapers to KU’s campus as part of the Newspaper Readership Program. He was filling newspaper boxes when the suspect allegedly stole his truck.

A vehicle barrier was heavily damaged behind Wescoe Hall Tuesday morning.

Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson said Harrison likely would make his first court appearance this afternoon.

Comments

imzo2002 4 years, 8 months ago

I was wondering what the police car was doing in the middle of the road in front of my house with its flashing lights for hours this morning.

Dirtman24 4 years, 8 months ago

was a bad wreck, 2 code reds 1 flown by helicopter to KU Med Center and no other helicopter within 30-40mins so the other code red was transported to KU Med Center by ground ambulance, the 2 code yellows where transported to LMH.

I need a reporting job at LJWORLD, listening to a police scanner gets more info.. LJWORD can I have a job cuz I can get pics faster and stories too during the late night hours....!!!!!!!!!!!

parrothead8 4 years, 8 months ago

They'll get back to you when you develop some writing skills.

Steve Bunch 4 years, 8 months ago

You'll need to learn to write about fashion trends and coupon deals, too.

wmathews 4 years, 8 months ago

Correct, but the accident happened northwest of the airport.

Whitney Mathews Assistant Community Editor for Online

wmathews 4 years, 8 months ago

I see what you're saying - you were referring to the headline and not the story. I fixed it. Thanks for catching it!

countrygirl 4 years, 8 months ago

You were right the first time. The accident was just before Midland and that's north west of Lawrence. I think you'd be better off to drop the reference to the airport.

Paula Kissinger 4 years, 8 months ago

What pickup truck? Must be the stolen vehicle from KU...right ?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 8 months ago

Looks like a case of vehicular homicide, at the very least. Probably second-degree murder.

monheim 4 years, 8 months ago

The word you are looking for is manslaughter I believe.

Steve Jacob 4 years, 8 months ago

The DA here rarely goes for the manslaughter on DUI charges, but it this case, I hope so. 3-5 years is better then 3-5 months. Second-degree murder would be great, but might be tough.

That turn scares me at night, not too hard at 55MPH to creep into the middle lane, and that if your paying attention.

rcr 4 years, 8 months ago

I could be wrong, but I thought if you were in the act of a crime and someone dies because of that crime, can't you be charged with first degree murder?

ebyrdstarr 4 years, 8 months ago

This is going to be a difficult case to make a felony murder charge on. From the article, the police say they don't think the driver was being pursued by police at the time of the crash. So the theft was completed and he was no longer in the act of stealing the truck.

Bill Cushing 4 years, 8 months ago

Tragic. It appears that the dead were innocent victims riding in the car. Perhaps going to work 3:40am??? This is the way it goes too often, the thief or drunk driver etc is unharmed and innocent people die or are crippled.

cozy 4 years, 8 months ago

What about a bicycle that had appropriate reflectors?

Uhjh 4 years, 8 months ago

"The driver of the pickup truck was detained by KU Public Safety officers after the crash." So KU Public Safety officers were at the scene - would lead me to think a pursuit of some sort had taken place.

Steve Jacob 4 years, 8 months ago

And people, don't leave you car/truck unlocked and running.

friendlyjhawk 4 years, 8 months ago

The thief is now also a killer. The blame is on the person who broke the law, not on the victims or any law enforcement officers in pursuit. The blame is also not the LJW either.

JustNoticed 4 years, 8 months ago

Edit this: "Douglas County Sheriff's Sgt. Steve Lewis said the crash involved a vehicle stolen from the Kansas University campus." say, "involved a PICKUP TRUCK stolen from ..." You call it a vehicle and it's a confusing mishmash from there trying to figure out what's what.

mikeylike1 4 years, 8 months ago

I am the uncle of the driver of the truck and still love him very much. I assure you that whatever led to this tragedy that Zach is feeling anguish for more than just being caught! He is a good kid who is serving his country right now that got caught up in a situation he shouldn't have been in.

Most likely because of the influence of alcohol. He made bad decisions that night to which he will have to answer for. How many of the people writing comments here have ever drank to much and drove? We've all been lucky that we didn't end up in an accident that killed someone!! I haven't been able to talk to Zach and don't know the details of that night but my nephew was and still is a good kid and the law will punish him for what has happened after they find out what happened. I'm sure Zach punish himself twice that.

That being said the biggest tragedy is the loss of life and the anguish of those hurt. My thoughts and prayers go out to those families and friends. I strongly pray that God grants you peace in your time of trouble. I also pray that if there is anything my family and I could do to help in your troubled times that I am contacted. mikeylike1@gmail.com

I hope this tragedy turns attention to the fact that until I find out the truth of what happened, that alcohol most likely turned a good kid into someone involved in this kind of tragedy. Can we all please take the loss of so many families here and use it to make us all wiser in our decisions.

At this time of the year I'm thankful that there is a God who is sitting with the young man who lost his life and a God who can help the injured and the families move on. And also a God who if given the chance will forgive Zach.

seriouscat 4 years, 8 months ago

Deepest sympathies from my heart to the families of the person who was killed! And to those who were injured too : (

Clickker 4 years, 8 months ago

Can we assume there was a police chase? A high speed pursuit?

KU_cynic 4 years, 8 months ago

"... allegedly stole his truck."

I am sick and tired of the media's overuse of "alleged" and "allegedly." The truck was stolen -- an absolute fact. I presume an individual was arrested in possession of the truck -- another verifiable fact. It would stretch the imagination to assume there is some intervening fact that would suggest that driver isn't the thief. This isn't some murder mystery where a criminal accusation is being made when facts are contestable.

My favorite example of this is the Fort Hood shooter, Major Nidal Malik Hasan. He may or may not be insane, but when NPR refers to him as the "alleged" shooter it's a disservice to an obvious truth: he shot and killed people.

meggers 4 years, 8 months ago

No reputable media source will report someone as guilty without an actual verdict from the court. To do otherwise would make a mockery of our criminal justice system and the presumption of innocence.

For example, the delivery driver might have been complicit, having arranged the theft of his vehicle so that he could collect the insurance money. I'm NOT implying that's what happened, but such a scenario provides a good example of why it's important for the media not to make assumptions about an individual's guilt or innocence. That's what the courts are for.

LisaGreenwood 4 years, 8 months ago

The media's use of the term "alleged" is a reflection of the basis of our justice system -- we believe persons to be innocent until proven guilty. Journalists are charged to report the facts, and the fact is that until someone has been found guilty by a court of law they can only be said to have "allegedly" committed a crime. It is not an overuse when it reflects basic journalism ethics and upholds our core beliefs about our justice system.

KU_cynic 4 years, 8 months ago

Reporting on a fact -- Major Nidal Malik Hasan shot and killed people at Fort Hood -- can be distinguished from reporting that he is guilty of criminal murder absent a court verdict.

To counter a Bill Clintonism, is doesn't matter what the word "is" means. Report facts without all the waffling.

Jonathan Kealing 4 years, 8 months ago

In general, I agree, that the media needs to do a better job of reporting facts as facts.

But I don't think the two examples that you're citing are good ones. As they've all said, we have no idea whether he stole the truck. Someone accused him of that. He hasn't been convicted, nor did we witness it. So it would both open us to potential legal liability (for libel) — as well as potentially limit his ability to get a fair trial — if we did report that he "factually" stole the vehicle. That isn't yet an established fact.

greenquarter 4 years, 8 months ago

KU Cynic-- I'll add that there are standard guidelines that most (if not all) reputable journalism outlets follow in avoiding libel suits. Take a gander at the Associated Press Style Book's (available at the library as well as at any bookstore) section on libel and the entry for "allege" and you'll see that LJW is following these industrywide practices--and for good reason (several of them, actually, including but not exclusively attempting to be an unbiased source of information, as all reputable news sources strive to be). You don't have to like it, but due process is an important right in this country.

nekansan 4 years, 8 months ago

Any chance this is related to the fire at Anschutz? Seems like starting a fire would be a good excuse to steal a vehicle to flee the scene? The Anschutz article makes is sound like it may have just been a malfunctioning HVAC unit, but this is 2 pretty major incidents in close proximity time-wise that originated on KU campus.

redmorgan 4 years, 8 months ago

I am very sorry to hear that such a young person died so needlessly and so near the holidays. My condolences to the family and friends.

bearded_gnome 4 years, 8 months ago

Py: I don't blame the writer--it's tricky editing one's own work, especially in the moment. It would be nice if a CE were looking everything over before it went live--the "vehicle" "pickup" thing would have been a very obvious catch for editorial eyes.

---Py, that's why we commenters get paid the really big bucks! [lol]

clarity in writing is important so readers understand just what happened.
I once heard the saying: "poor writing represents poor thinking."


yes, I hope the families grieving have support in this terrible time of loss and severe injury.

I also pray for the first responders who have to see these accidents in the raw gory reality of the immediate.
they work to save lives and sometimes beyond their heroic efforts a life slips away from us.

I hope EMS/fire and pd/sherrif/kupd can find peace after this.

mikeylike1 4 years, 8 months ago

I understand why you would feel as you do. But, the driver is not an evil POS and is worthy of oxygen. He was and still is a good kid who most likely because of alcohol got caught up in something he shouldn't have and will have to pay for his mistakes.

The loss of the families of the boys in the car are greater than ours but there is still a mother and family that have to live with the fact that our Zach was involved in something like this.

Zach's loving uncle

ashley_526 4 years, 8 months ago

You can feel how you want but there is no reason for you to say the things you are. Zach is an amazing person, but you wouldn't know that. He has made a huge mistake and he will pay for the crime and live with this for the rest of his life. I'm really sorry for the family and friends that lost someone very important to them and to the ones that got hurt. It would be greatly appreciated if you would stop talking like he doesn't to live because he does. Zach's Loving sister

walkthe 4 years, 8 months ago

Well said mike & ashley. I've seen articles like this involving someone I don't know, and I've always been tempted to think the same words about the person who caused an accident with similar circumstances. But then all of the sudden it's different, and you know the person or the family of the person involved, and you realize, every time something like this happens to a good kid like zach, there's a chance that they come from a good family and are in fact really good kids, but just made a terrible mistake. PY, if there's an ounce of decency in you, please think of that the next time you decide to post hateful things about people you'll never know. I recently lost my elderly father in a car accident that sadly, he caused. He was the only one who died. It was at a very poorly designed country intersection of 2 highways that's caused countless numbers of accidents since it was built. The hurtful comments posted by people like you on the local newspaper website about how all elderly people should have their keys taken away and how bad of a person they made my dad out to be made me want to find that person and tear them apart. Tragedies like this happen, and what do you do? You jump online and post the first hateful thought that crosses their mind without thinking that maybe there's more to the story than they know. You need to realize the family could very easily come across your comments, and what have you accomplished by spouting off? You just added to the grief that that family is feeling. Absolutely no good has come from your actions.

ashley_526 4 years, 8 months ago

He made a mistake there is no excuse for that, and our family knows that. I am just asking for people to stop talking like he doesn't derserve to live. I understand people are upset, I'm very upset with the situation also, but it DOES NOT mean that we should all get on here and put hateful things.

walkthe 4 years, 8 months ago

no, i know my dad wouldn't have done that, if he was sober when it happened. if he was drunk enough to not realize what happened, or got scared and ran (try mixing alcohol with extreme fear and see what you get) then yeah, he may have left the scene. let me ask you this-have you ever been in an accident with a drunk person? i have once, not as bad as this one, but i got backed into by a girl that was beyond drunk at my old apartment complex. She was so out of it, she didn't realize it happened until the next morning when i confronted her, and it was a pretty bone-jarring jolt when her car hit mine.

Thanks for the condolences, it's nice to hear from strangers.

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