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Archive for Wednesday, November 24, 2010

23-year-old Arkansas man faces involuntary manslaughter, other charges in connection with fatal accident on U.S. 24-59

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 24, 2010, 10:36 a.m. Updated November 24, 2010, 5:56 p.m.

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Zachary Harrison

Zachary Harrison

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

Douglas County prosecutors on Wednesday filed several charges, including involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, against a 23-year-old man in connection with a fatality accident Tuesday north of Lawrence.

Zachary Tyler Harrison, 23, who is stationed at the Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas, said little in court Wednesday afternoon, other than “yes sir” or “no sir” as a judge set his bond at $175,000 for the nine charges he faces.

He was arrested Tuesday as a suspect in the 3:40 a.m. crash on U.S. Highway 24-59.

Douglas County Sheriff’s officers and prosecutors accused Harrison of stealing a pickup truck being used by a newspaper carrier earlier Tuesday on the Kansas University campus. Authorities allege Harrison eventually struck a car from behind around 3:40 a.m. and killed a 21-year-old Lincoln, Neb., man, and injured three others.

Sheriff’s officers on Wednesday identified Cameron Freeman as the man who died in the accident. Family members said the four Nebraska men were headed back to Lincoln after attending a concert in Lawrence.

Family reaction

The sheriff’s office identified the three other 21-year-old Lincoln, Neb., men in the car with Freeman as Casey Kettler, Michael Larsen and Fernando Pages.

Kettler, the driver, and Larsen, the front-seat passenger, were taken to Lawrence Memorial Hospital, where they were treated and later released. Pages, a back-seat passenger, was taken to Kansas University Hospital in Kansas City, Kan., where his condition was unknown Wednesday. Freeman, another back-seat passenger, died at KU Hospital, said Sgt. Steve Lewis, a sheriff’s spokesman.

Sheriff’s officers said the Nebraska men were traveling north at 3:40 a.m. Tuesday on U.S. Highway 24-59 when their Mazda 626 was rear-ended by a Toyota Tundra that prosecutors say was the truck that Harrison stole. The truck did not stop after the accident.

Tim Kettler, Casey Kettler’s father, said the four Nebraska men had been friends since high school and were in Lawrence for a concert. He said they were headed back to Lincoln so they could make it to work on Tuesday.

“Casey said they were traveling less than the speed limit. He looked in his mirror and saw the lights, and then they were hit,” he said. “It was an out-of-the-blue kind of thing.”

Kettler said his son and Larsen made it back to Lincoln after they were released from the hospital. He said it appeared Pages would recover from his injuries.

Freeman was a 2007 graduate of Lincoln East High School. Dennis Mann, the associate principal, described him as a fun kid and talented musician who was well-liked by his teachers. He said he kept a close circle of friends.

“We’ll miss him,” Mann said. “The world was a better place when he was in it.”

Charges

The charges Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson’s office filed Wednesday against Harrison revealed a few more details about the incident.

Sheriff’s officers have said the pickup truck was stolen from the KU campus from a newspaper carrier delivering several papers as part of the Newspaper Readership Program. Sheriff’s and Kansas University officers on Tuesday said Harrison was not being pursued by police just before the crash on the highway.

“The state does believe the defendant poses an extreme risk of safety to the public,” said David Melton, a chief assistant district attorney.

Melton also said he considered Harrison to be a flight risk because his only connection to the Lawrence area is a brother he was here visiting.

Harrison, an airman first class in the U.S. Air Force, has been stationed since 2009 at the Little Rock Air Force Base.

Harrison faces charges of:

• Involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs for Freeman’s death.

• Three counts of aggravated battery for the injuries to the other three men.

• Leaving the scene of a fatality accident.

• Failing to report a fatality accident to police.

• Following a vehicle too closely.

• Criminal deprivation of property, or “joyriding” in a vehicle he took without permission.

• Failing to report damage to property for striking a gate or object on the KU campus.

Judge pro-tem James George agreed to set Harrison’s bond at $175,000.

Melton said prosecutors don’t believe Harrison has any past criminal history. If that’s true, he faces a maximum of three years and seven months in prison on the involuntary manslaughter count if convicted of the most severe charge.

George appointed Jason Billam as Harrison’s attorney and scheduled his next hearing for 2 p.m. Monday.

Comments

nepenthe 3 years, 4 months ago

/He/ will have to live with this for the rest of his life? At least he has a life to live. The person he killed (intentionally or not, he DID kill him) will not. And his family will have to live never knowing what kind of person he might have been if Zach had not stolen a truck and rear-ended the car he was riding in.

I am so tired of these 'don't judge them bro!' comments. I'd prefer to see something like 'What Zach did was awful, and we are very sorry to the friends and family of the young man whose life came to a tragic end and are praying for for all of them.' Just leave the excuses and the don't juuuuuuudges out. Thanks!

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rebainks 3 years, 4 months ago

Zach is a good guy! I know he would never hurt anyone on purpose! Yes it is terrible that a young man had to die due to bad decisions, but you all don't know Zach so don't judge him till you do. He will have to live with this the rest of his life and i know it is tearing him apart! My heart goes out to the family of the young man that died in this accident. Only God can judge us. I pray for all the people that all involved in this accident and want Zach to know that we love him. May God be with you all.

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raoulduke 3 years, 4 months ago

This is a tragedy on many levels. Godspeed to the victims, everyone associated who is devastated, and also this young man who made terrible decisions that ended a life and ruined his own.

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beaujackson 3 years, 4 months ago

Why did the driver leave the keys in the truck.

Most delivery truck drivers remove keys when they leave their trucks.

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greenworld 3 years, 4 months ago

I dont see on charge listed, what about the charge for stealing the car, isnt that grand theft auto or somthing in that regards and im not seeing it. Let me repeat, nothing ever good happens at 340 in the morning. You will run into two types of people out on the road. Drunks or 2nd shift workers getting off work and falling asleep at the wheel. So im wondering how so much damage was done to the car, im assuming he rear ended them and it spun them and then it rolled several times by the looks of it. It only takes one poor decision to change ones life forever good kid or bad kid. This kid obviously had some type of problems to steal a car and do what happened with nobody to turn to or call to get a ride if he was drunk.

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Vinny1 3 years, 4 months ago

He'll get a couple years max.

Its a joke. You are literally better off to run away, and turn yourself in the next day. You're punishment will be a joke for the crime you committed.

People like this should be put away for 25 to life. Instead he will get 1-3 and be free to go.

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Russell Fryberger 3 years, 4 months ago

You all forget, it's Lawrence, he'll walk. "god" will lead him to riteousness and make it all better for him. The Freeman man is still dead because of the selfless unthinking act of another drunk driver.

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KansasPerson 3 years, 4 months ago

"I also assure you he had no intention on hurting anyone as many of the people did who drove home drunk last night and will tonight and as most of you probebly have."

Heavens above but I'm getting tired of people getting on here every time something like this happens and telling us all outright that "most of us" have probably driven drunk. It just isn't true. Some of us are educated enough to have the facts, and responsible and street-smart enough to put them into practice. However, if it makes you feel better to believe it, then there's not much anyone can do to talk you out of it.

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sad_lawrencian 3 years, 4 months ago

Time to change sentencing guidelines for involuntary manslaughter or charge the perp with murder.

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Paul Hahn 3 years, 4 months ago

This tragic story provides us with a stark vignette of alcoholism. We can talk about the clinical definition of "abuse" or "dependence" and ask questions about how many drinks are consumed over how much time, etc. But when we are asking "Do I have a drinking problem?", you can cut through a lot of psycho-babble by asking two simple questions:

1 - Have I gotten drunk, and then did things that I regretted later that were directly related to my inebriation? And... 2 - Do I STILL drink to the point of drunkenness in spite of having a history of making regrettable mistakes when drunk?

If drinking gets you in trouble YET you still allow yourself to get drunk, you probably have a drinking problem. Because at that point you are living by the rule of "Drinking really hurts me, but drinking is so important to me that I ignore/minimize the consequences of drinking." Some would call that stoopid (and in some cases it really is just "idiocy" that makes people live that way), but "addiction" explains it better than stoopid.

I'm sure this man's uncle is right: He's a good man, a patriot, etc. At the same time, I would want to ask his uncle or anyone else who knows him if his drinking had gotten him in "situations" in the past. He impulsively stole a vehicle while drunk. What other "mistakes" has he made when drunk? If this incident is part of a pattern of behavior, then he really needed to consider seeking out treatment regarding his drinking.

My condolences to all the victims and to the airman's family as well.

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topflight 3 years, 4 months ago

Pro-tem Judge James George is the worst. Very surprised that he allowed the bond to even be that high. Judge George, you are terrible.

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yankeevet 3 years, 4 months ago

Once again drinking and driving does not mix........................

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cletus26 3 years, 4 months ago

3 years, is that all? well i be...

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labmonkey 3 years, 4 months ago

Instead of wasting millions of dollars on his trial and incarceration, transfer him to the Marines, send him to Afghanistan, and make him point man for every urban warfare mission out there.

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sierraclub 3 years, 4 months ago

A good kid? Send him to Russian and let him work off of his crime. No point in wasting tax dollars so this 'good kid' can relax in a prision.

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RoeDapple 3 years, 4 months ago

A good kid, uncle mikey? Tell it to the family of the deceased

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michaelclayton 3 years, 4 months ago

It's quite an accomplishment when you have a list of charges that long. Stealing a $25,000 truck isn't even the beginning of his legal nightmare. That's really something. He's going to have a long time to sit and think about it too. Of course, if he'd hit and killed a bicyclist there would be dozens of people on here saying the biker deserved to die. So predictable.

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ksjayhawk74 3 years, 4 months ago

The accused has a FaceBook page, that is locked. The only information I can get from the page is that he is in the Air Force...

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#!/profile.php?id=46107798

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Scruggsy 3 years, 4 months ago

I was picturing in my mind more of a meth head looking POS. Looks more like a D-bag POS however. That smirk will be wiped off his face soon, if not already.

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Flap Doodle 3 years, 4 months ago

How many years can you get for killing someone while committing a felony?

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blindrabbit 3 years, 4 months ago

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

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