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Man dies after head-on motorcycle accident on Iowa Street; road shut down for nearly five hours

Lawrence police and medics respond to a wreck reportedly involving a motorcycle and a car near Iowa Street and University Drive on Wednesday, August 31, 2011.

Lawrence police and medics respond to a wreck reportedly involving a motorcycle and a car near Iowa Street and University Drive on Wednesday, August 31, 2011.

August 31, 2011, 6:22 p.m. Updated August 31, 2011, 10:43 p.m.

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One person dies in van-motorcycle accident

Lawrence fire and medical personnel work the scene of an accident between a motorcycle and another vehicle. One person died at the scene after the Wednesday evening accident near Iowa Street and University Drive, an officer at the scene said. Enlarge video

Police Discuss Iowa Street Motorcycle Accident

Sgt. Matt Sarna, a Lawrence police spokesman, discussed the investigation into a two-vehicle accident in which a motorcyclist died the evening of Aug. 31, 2011, on Iowa Street near University Drive. Enlarge video

Iowa Street and University Drive

A man died Wednesday in a rush-hour accident that shut down one of the city’s main thoroughfares for hours.

The accident at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday involved a motorcycle and a van near Iowa Street and University Drive, said Sgt. Matt Sarna, a Lawrence police spokesman.

Sarna said according to a preliminary investigation, it appeared the motorcyclist, headed northbound, veered into the lanes of oncoming traffic and was struck by the southbound van. Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical workers declared the motorcyclist dead at the scene, and no other injuries were reported.

“We believe that he was slowing for traffic and went into the other lane and got hit then,” Sarna said.

Iowa Street was closed in both directions between 15th Street and Stratford Road until just before 11 p.m. Wednesday as police investigated the crash. It caused major traffic headaches Wednesday evening in area neighborhoods near the Kansas University campus.

Police Wednesday night did not identify the motorcyclist, pending notification of family members. Sarna also did not release the man’s age or hometown.

A Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical supervisor initially asked about the availability of a helicopter ambulance, but it was later called off. The crash occurred on one of the city’s busiest streets.

“For any kind of vehicle during the rush hour, it’s always going to be busy, and we always tell people to drive carefully,” Sarna said. “In some instances they just need to be more aware of their surroundings when they’re driving. In this instance we’re not sure exactly what happened, so we can’t be as sure until we go through the whole investigation process.”

This is the second fatality in Lawrence in recent days after a Michigan man, who was possibly involved in a chase with a Tonganoxie police officer earlier, died in a North Lawrence crash early Saturday morning.

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Comments

BrianR 2 years, 7 months ago

I don't have time to read all of the comments so forgive me if I'm repeating something. One thing learnt from bike racing is that with proper gear, it matters less how fast you're going when you fall and more on how fast you're going when you stop that predicts how bad your spill is going to be physically. No amount of gear could have saved this rider. My prayers to his family and friends. The van driver too.

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ozmaster2 2 years, 7 months ago

I was there. I attempted first aid. The man was already gone. I thought, Godspeed, Buddy. You are already in another place.

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Deja Coffin 2 years, 7 months ago

My thoughts and prayers go out to the victim's family and friends. I hope in the days to come you can find strength and peace. I also want to pray for those who witnessed this accident. I'm sure that since it was rush hour there are several people that will have to deal with the aftermath of seeing this accident.

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Jane 2 years, 7 months ago

How about reducing the speed limit on Iowa from one end to the other? Of course, LE would have to actually enforce the limit. I've never lived in a town so complacent about traffic laws. I avoid Iowa because people drive like bats out of hell, students or no students.

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BruceWayne 2 years, 7 months ago

going on 24 hours and no new info?

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pineapple7 2 years, 7 months ago

What about the driveways along there? Could someone in front of him been turning into a driveway on the west side of Iowa?

Condolences to his friends and family.

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cj123 2 years, 7 months ago

Just found out my friend was right behind the driver of the van. She said she is trying to keep her self busy today so she will not to think about it! I couldn't imagine what all drivers and witnesses are going through! And the families!

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Adrienne Sanders 2 years, 7 months ago

You know what would be even more awesome than a turn lane? If people would not drive too fast and pay attention and use their turn signals. It doesn't really sound like it would have helped the unfortunate rider in this case, but it would def. help all the accidents on Iowa.

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Kontum1972 2 years, 7 months ago

You ride on Iowa..u take your life in your own hands, i have traveled there a few times on my harley and it scares the crap out of me...too much going on with the drivers on that street, this is tragic but it is not a biker riders friendly road. I am sad this person lost their life my son and i were on Iowa last night returning home and we saw the road block, and we turned off to an outer road, and went home.

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mommy_n_me 2 years, 7 months ago

and yet again...... where is the report on ALL the motorcyclist accidents that have been happening??? My count is now up to 5 in LESS than 1 week!!!!

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prairieflower1 2 years, 7 months ago

My prayers go out to all affected by this accident. Every year, late August and all of September, there are accidents every weekend at 15th and Iowa. There have already been at least 2 in the last few weeks. Please drive carefully and defensively. Also, lighted and larger street signs, marking the names of the side streets, would help to prevent the breaking that we see as people are searching for their turn onto the side streets.

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beaujackson 2 years, 7 months ago

NO LEFT TURNS ON IOWA BETWEEN HARVARD AND 15TH WOULD PREVENT MANY ACCIDENTS.

LONG OVERDUE.

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bootlegger 2 years, 7 months ago

Just dont ride those killer bikes........................

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Monica Miller 2 years, 7 months ago

Why no coverage of the 4 car pileup at 23rd & Lawrence Ave this morning?? Traffic was backed up terribly! Looked like the second car got the worst from both ends.

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Che 2 years, 7 months ago

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation should provide at least the most basic training for all drivers. The most important thing taught and unfortunately without lots of training it is one that sinks in the slowest, you must always be asking what if. It is clear that the majority of people driving never ask that question and never slow down, never anticipate that someone might stop or pull out in front of you. Age helps people to learn some of this but unfortunately there are too many older drivers who are just as bad as a kid. This is why intense training should be mandatory before anyone is on the road. An airplane pilot who is miles away from anyone else has to learn how to handle a stall and has to be intimately knowledgeable about the physics involved in flying. Our government is doing a huge disservice by allowing this mayhem to continue which in the end is simply a GDP enhancer and money shouldn't be put before lives.

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Che 2 years, 7 months ago

Funny the solution is always turn lanes and more protective devices instead of going back to square one which is lack of driving skills. The fact that most people are speeding through that area is problem one and allowing people to turn at all from the south bound traffic onto one of the streets going to ku is ridiculous. Pedestrians are expected to hike half a mile or more to use the crossings yet the driver who is too inconvenience to either turn at Harvard or 15th. Our pathetic entitled belief that our car can go anywhere, whenever it wants, at any speed is the problem, not the lack of turning lanes. During tight budget times isn't it time we start looking the real problems and the cheaper fix, at least for the government?

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Curtis Lange 2 years, 7 months ago

23-24 yr old was the rider per information I've been able to piece together. Won't put his name out of respect (sure the LJWorld will have it up soon enough), but he was from Western KS...sounds like this was his first semester at KU after spending time at K-State.

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Steve Jacob 2 years, 7 months ago

No way left turns should be allowed onto University Drive at any time.

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Liberal 2 years, 7 months ago

Prayers for the friends and family. These types of accidents are so heartbreaking. Let this unfortunate accident be a reminder to be careful if you are on a bike and look out for them if you are in a car.

Two days ago I had a guy on a bike drive down the center stripe on 19th going West toward Iowa to avoid the traffic.

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redmoonrising 2 years, 7 months ago

Ironically, I was driving north on Iowa yesterday and noticed a motorcyclist who wasn't driving irratically but was switching lanes a few times. He was a man probalby in his 50's. What caught my attention was the fact that he wasn't wearing a helmet. The head is very vulnerable so why risk it? At the same time, he had ear buds in, obviously listening to something, which could be distracting. I was just hoping that he made it to his destination without incident,

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gsxr600 2 years, 7 months ago

Any indication why he "swerved into oncoming traffic"? Was he trying to make a quick turn, or was he veering to avoid an abruptly stopped vehicle directly in his path? Either way this is tragic.

Rush hour is bad enough when school's not in session and I think we've all had close calls when someone is trying to turn left on Iowa, holds up traffic, and many people are forced to brake hard to avoid hitting the car in front of them. Also it's 35 through there but 99% of people go 40+ and 45 is not uncommon.

I don't want to speculate on the accident because I wasn't there and maybe I'm biased toward motorcycles but I think it's vitally important to recognize them on the road. I see so many cagers text, talk on their phones, blab at their kids, and pay no attention to their surroundings around them. It's even worse when Johnson County (let's be honest) drivers and other non-locals drive overly aggressive in a town they aren't familiar with.

As a motorcyclist trying to stay safe during rush hour I would recommend taking residential streets when you have to (30mph a bike can stop on a dime), and use stoplights when crossing main intersections. Don't fight traffic.

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Che 2 years, 7 months ago

"For any kind of vehicle during the rush hour, it's always going to be busy, and we always tell people to drive carefully," Sarna said.

If they are aware of the dangers why is there no attempt to show a presence to make people aware of the only thing that will make the behave when they drive? All the pleading in the world isn't going to stop the people who routinely demonstrate they will drive anyway they want whenever they want.

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conservative 2 years, 7 months ago

My sympathies to all involved, horrible loss for one family and a tragic accident that the van driver couldn't avoid but will be with him forever. That stretch of Iowa is already scheduled for reconstruction including turn lanes.

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Ralph Reed 2 years, 7 months ago

@wtff The neighborhood has been trying to get one for years, but for some reason it's never made any headway. It wouldn't have done him any good though, as he was northbound.

Our prayers to the rider and his family, and those in the van.

@ maddockt. I hope your friend is OK.

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wtff 2 years, 7 months ago

Hmmmmm, wonder if it had anything to do with the fact there isn't a turn lane there...? One of the most dangerous places in town for driving (high number of accidents) and we can't make it safer/solve the problem with a turn lane? It was done on 6th street by hy-vee where eastbound left turners would get rear-ended, why not there?!

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maddockt 2 years, 7 months ago

Did anyone see the color of bike and/or helmet? I know lots of riders...

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GUMnNUTS 2 years, 7 months ago

Very unfortunate. Was he wearing a helmet?

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cj123 2 years, 7 months ago

Devastating to all involved! Thoughts and prayers to the families!

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BitterClinger 2 years, 7 months ago

Prayers going up for the motorcyclist's family and friends along with the driver of the SUV.

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edjayhawk 2 years, 7 months ago

Please tell me he was wearing a helmut.

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