Douglas County prosecutors won’t file criminal charges in connection with a May 31 accident on the South Lawrence Trafficway in which a Lyndon woman was struck and killed by debris that fell from a pickup truck.
“This appears to be just a horrific accident,” District Attorney Charles Branson said. “But there was no conduct that rose to the level warranting filing of criminal charges.”
Douglas County Sheriff’s officers had forwarded information in June to Branson’s office for review. Detectives had said witnesses indicated a metal object fell from a westbound Dodge pickup truck hauling items and eventually pierced the windshield of an another pickup truck following it, according to the accident report.
The metal object, described as a tooth from the bucket of a front-end loader, struck 47-year-old Cindy Burnett, a passenger in her husband’s pickup truck. She later died from her injuries. The sheriff’s office identified 20-year-old Nicholas Rockhold of Baldwin City as the driver of the truck that lost the piece of debris.
But Branson said prosecutors would only refer the case back to the sheriff’s office to consider any citations for traffic infractions. Sgt. Steve Lewis, a sheriff’s spokesman, said Tuesday Rockhold was ticketed for failing to secure a load.
“We’ve completed our review of the investigation in this matter,” Branson said. “We’ve determined that there are no criminal charges appropriate to file in this case.”
According to the accident report, Rockhold told Detective Jay Armbrister that all items on his trailer were chained down and that he stopped twice to make sure the load hadn’t shifted and the chains had not loosened.
The accident occurred just north of the Kansas Highway 10 bridge over Clinton Parkway southwest of Lawrence. Armbrister said Rockhold told him the object possibly could have come out of a container when he hit bumps where the pavement meets the bridge deck on K-10.