Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Family, friends remember three people who died Sunday night in Leavenworth County accident

From left to right, Mathew Nuzik, 30, Jake Henry, 21, and Stephanie Conn, 22, were killed Sunday, Oct. 10 in a violent crash on Kansas Highway 32.

From left to right, Mathew Nuzik, 30, Jake Henry, 21, and Stephanie Conn, 22, were killed Sunday, Oct. 10 in a violent crash on Kansas Highway 32.

October 11, 2010

Three people — a pair of Kansas University students who had been dating since their high school days and a 30-year-old Basehor man — died Sunday night in a violent crash on Kansas Highway 32.

Friends remember KU students killed in car crash

Friends speak kindly about Stephanie Conn and Jake Henry, two KU students who went to high school together in Bonner Springs and have dated since the seventh grade. The two were killed in a head-on collision with another man on K-32 Sunday evening. Enlarge video

The accident happened about one-tenth of a mile west of 214th Street on K-32.

Friends and family members, many still recovering after hearing the news of the deaths, remembered the three of them on Monday.

Stephanie Conn, 22, and Jake Henry, 21, were killed when their car collided with a second car driven by Mathew Nuzik, a 30-year-old Basehor man.

Nuzik also died at the scene. According to police, Nuzik’s 2008 Subaru Impreza was trying to pass another vehicle while traveling east on the highway when it collided head-on with the 2002 Saturn sedan that Henry was driving west.

Nuzik grew up in California, said his mother, Chris Nuzik, and graduated from Tonganoxie High School before moving to Basehor about 10 years ago.

Her son, who was married but had no children, had earned an associate’s degree from Kansas City Kansas Community College and worked for ADT Home Security. She described him as something of a computer nerd and a “sweetheart of a guy.”

“I just know that I miss him a lot,” his mother said.

Conn and Henry both attended Bonner Springs High School, and had dated during much of their time there, friends and teachers said. In their yearbook senior year, they had been voted “cutest couple,” said Rick Moulin, assistant principal at the high school.

“They were model students with really, really high character,” Moulin said. “The kind of kids as a parent you’d hope your kids would act like.”

Chris Wood, a senior English teacher remembered how Henry would always have a smile on his face, and was always creative and willing to think.

“They were a very inclusive couple,” said Wood, and didn’t have cliques they hung around with.

Henry played the trombone in high school, and enjoyed golfing, said Zach Holder, a KU junior from Bonner Springs who knew both Conn and Henry.

Holder said the two were always together. They had lived together for two years, he said, most recently in an apartment at Meadowbrook.

“They were just both great people who loved to have fun,” he said.

Henry — a senior who was majoring in sports management — had been working at the Nike Factory Outlet at the Legends in Kansas City, Kan., Holder said. Both enjoyed going to KU football and basketball games, and camped out for seats.

Both loved music — Conn, a junior at KU majoring in psychology, sang in the choir both in high school and at KU, and played in several school musical productions.

Both were involved in National Honor Society in high school, Moulin said, and Conn played tennis and softball in high school, while Henry played on the golf team.

“It’s a really sad day,” Moulin said. “These two kids really meant a lot to our faculty and our school. ... A lot of people are in shock.”


croutons 7 years, 7 months ago

What's interesting about that section of road is that passing is allowed for eastbound traffic there but the road curves southward. It is difficult to see oncoming traffic through the car in front of you. Check out the Google streetview imagery at 39° 0'13.18"N 95° 4'38.80"W which is the approximate location of the accident according to the article. I think I'd feel safer passing westbound than eastbound. For whatever it's worth, I think this needs to be looked at.

My condolences to the families of the lost.

fyrfighter 7 years, 7 months ago

while I understand kind of what you are getting at, the bottom line is this. You must drive safely. This gentleman knew the road, but chose to do what he did. I do not pretend to know what was going on in his vehicle, but driving safely is a must for all. Most folks forget that, and it doe not take but a split second to change everything. My condolences also to the families.

croutons 7 years, 7 months ago

I agree wholeheartedly. I should have emphasized this first in my original post; you're absolutely right. Accident prevention starts with careful driving. I just happened to look over the area and the passing "permissions" (i.e., spans with a dotted center line) do not seem logical given the curvature of the road. I often wonder just what attributes of a given stretch of road dictate where passing is permitted or prohibited. In this particular case, it doesn't quite gel in my opinion. I must note that this is based solely on examination of the Google streetview imagery as well as the overhead imagery; I have not actually driven on this section of road.

Would anyone who has driven through here care to comment on their own experiences?

Again, I do not wish to diminish what has happened here, this was a terrible tragedy; my goal is to stimulate conversation or whatever it takes to go forward in the prevention of this sort of occurrence in the future.

mdrndgtl 7 years, 7 months ago

Tragic. My condolences to the families.

illfareal785 7 years, 7 months ago

its crazy, because early sunday morning on henrys facebook he said its 10-10-10 and he said he wonders wat that means. thoughts and prayers goin out the familys affected by this incident

lionheart72661 7 years, 7 months ago

I used to have to drive on 32 highway everyday and shake my head everytime someone passes me on that road. People please slow down on these roads. Enjoy life and the scenery around you. It's not just other cars but wildlife too. Just a few months ago a friend was almost killed when a deer went through his windshield close to that area.

Matthew Fowler 7 years, 7 months ago

You've gotta watch what you're doing on two-lane highways, folks. They're no joke.

Mike Hoffmann 7 years, 7 months ago

Agreed, they are scary business. I'm amazed at some of the passes I see people make on them. It puts everyone in danger.

TheYetiSpeaks 7 years, 7 months ago

And the winner for broad generalization of the day is.......

garyr 7 years, 7 months ago

Tom, I don't believe you. You either have to be an EMS, EMT, or some type of truck driver. It seems that you happen to roll up on every accident, fire, shooting, or anything of importance that's reported in the paper. It makes no one think any more of you that you happenned upon this accident. Plese quit these shenanigans, and just think of the victims, and not yourself for once!!

garyr 7 years, 7 months ago

Tom, you're more than welcome to comment. And, since you're always involved, or near to the breaking news, you should do more than comment. I think the LJW should sign you up as a beat reporter since you're always on the scene!

garyr 7 years, 7 months ago

Again, Tom, I don't believe you. The only degree you may have is a BS degree. And, I don't mean a Bachelor of Science.

olmsted78 7 years, 7 months ago

if i am looking at the right spot on google street maps it looks potentially hazardous...soft bend in the road, possibly front positioned eastbound car blocking right side field of vision of the following eastbound driver. Near the arc of the bend both eastbound & westbound lanes go from solid to dotted line within about 20-50 feet of each other, seemingly allowing for a brief gap in full vision to safely pass / or safely react depending on where vehicles are positioned, etc., even though the passing lines apparently show otherwise. ....However, i'm not even positive i'm looking at the right spot--

Don't mean to come off as cold or calculating by analyzing the details surrounding the location and accident-- i'm just interested in the potential hazards of driving and unsafe areas on our roads that can lead to such sudden tragedies. I have been affected directly by tragic car accidents on multiple occasions as i am sure many of us have now. They are are completely unyielding in their suddenness and often randomness. They are hard to grasp, and they seem to be happening more frequently--

Regardless of the details of this particular accident, we all need to do what we can to be safer and more attentive drivers out there. Many take driving around in vehicles for granted because it is so rooted now into our culture, it has become almost a secondary or passive activity. Just another routine daily function that can be multi-tasked right in there w/ all our other tasks and muses. Of course, there will always exist some inherent risks and uncontrollable circumstances, but PEOPLE we have to somehow stop losing so many healthy innocent lives on our roads! It can start with each of us who drive, individually. One person is controlling that vehicle, remember. If we can at least eliminate our own mental mistakes and distractions that would be more than half the battle...

My condolences to the families involved here-- I hope the spirits of all your loved ones help you cope and gain the strength and courage you need and deserve.


Bob Burton 7 years, 7 months ago

Watch out Tom.. garyr must be a democrat as he went right into the personal attack mode..

mathewnuzik 7 years, 7 months ago

Family and Friends also mourn the tragic death of Mathew Nuzik. He was a loving father to a six year old baby girl. He was also a husband, a son and a great friend to many. He worked at ADT for ten years. He will be dearly missed by all of his family, friends and co-workers who cherished the moments they shared together. He was very intelligent. Mathew loved playing with and building computers as well as building motors and fixing cars. He never hesitated to help others when he knew how to help. Mathew we all miss you very much and will never forget all the brightness you brought into our lives.

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