Archive for Wednesday, June 1, 2011

South Lawrence Trafficway fatal accident victim is from Lyndon

Widower, police seek other driver in ‘extreme tragedy’

Douglas County Sheriff's officials investigate a fatality accident on the South Lawrence Trafficway near Clinton Parkway Tuesday, May 31, 2011. One person died when a piece of metal fell off an oncoming truck and went through the windshield.

Douglas County Sheriff's officials investigate a fatality accident on the South Lawrence Trafficway near Clinton Parkway Tuesday, May 31, 2011. One person died when a piece of metal fell off an oncoming truck and went through the windshield.

June 1, 2011, 12:54 p.m. Updated June 1, 2011, 3:09 p.m.


Cindy Burnett was killed Tuesday, May 31, on the South Lawrence Trafficway when a metal object from a passing car struck the windshield of the vehicle she was riding in.

Cindy Burnett was killed Tuesday, May 31, on the South Lawrence Trafficway when a metal object from a passing car struck the windshield of the vehicle she was riding in.

One person killed in accident on the South Lawrence Trafficway

Douglas County Sheriff's officials investigate the scene of a fatal accident on the South Lawrence Trafficway near Clinton Parkway Tuesday, May 31, 2011. Undersheriff Steve Hornberger said officers believed the metal object fell from an eastbound pickup truck hauling a trailer, struck the windshield of a northbound vehicle and injured a passenger who later died. Enlarge video

Jeff Burnett was just leaving Lawrence around noon Tuesday with his wife, Cindy, heading to Topeka on the South Lawrence Trafficway near Clinton Parkway.

Then, in a split second, a piece of metal pierced a hole in their vehicle’s windshield and struck Cindy, who was sitting in the passenger’s seat.

“It was a thing that shouldn’t happen,” Jeff Burnett said Wednesday afternoon. “It happened so fast.”

The 48-year-old Lyndon woman died a short time later from her injuries at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, and Douglas County Sheriff’s officials publicly identified her as the victim Wednesday.

“It was a freak accident — a one-in-a-million shot,” Burnett said tearfully. “It just happened to be us.”

Undersheriff Steve Hornberger said officers were still looking Wednesday for the driver of the oncoming eastbound vehicle because they believed the errant piece of metal possibly flew off from a trailer it was hauling.

The accident occurred at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, and Hornberger again Wednesday said it was possible the driver of the southbound pickup truck had no idea the metal object had fallen.

“We’re actively investigating this extreme tragedy,” Hornberger said.

The eastbound vehicle was described as a dark-colored pickup truck hauling a trailer with heavy equipment, possibly an old tractor.

Hornberger said deputies were following several leads because officers had received several calls about people who were in the area or who might have information.

Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff's office at 785-843-0250, 785-841-0007 or Douglas County Crime Stoppers at 785-843-TIPS.

Jeff Burnett said he hoped the driver of the other vehicle would come forward soon for closure, but he said he wasn’t blaming anyone for the accident.

“I’d like to just know and tell them they didn’t do it on purpose,” he said.

The family was struggling with the sudden tragedy and trying to make arrangements for services, Burnett said.

He and his wife had been married for 21 years. The Burnetts had two children together, and she had two children from a previous marriage.

They had subcontracted cleaning jobs for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Melvern Lake in Osage County for several years. She grew up in Topeka, Burnett said.

A memorial service is planned for 2 p.m. Friday at Outlet Park at Melvern Lake.

“She cared more about people than herself,” Burnett said. “And I’m sure that she would be glad that it was her instead of someone else.

“She would gladly have taken somebody’s place. She was just that kind of person.”


Laura Wilson 5 years ago

A friend of mine once had a piece of rebar fly off a truck in front of her and pierce her front window about a foot from her head. Ever since then I've been very leery of following trucks loaded with items that might come loose. It can be very dangerous if you don't tie everything down tightly or put smaller items in sealed and tied down containers.

LadyJ 5 years ago

Had lots of things come off of vehicles in front of me when I had to travel Hy 10 for a few years so I too am leary of being behind vehicles hauling things. Had a mattress fly off a car in front of me, only tied in one spot in the middle. That and leary of children within 5 to 8 ft of the street, never know what they will do.

Clickker 5 years ago

We saved the (man made)wetlands, but another fatality happens on the 2 lane kind-of-a bypass instead of a 4 lane bypass. Sad

gccs14r 5 years ago

You're an idiot. The two segments have nothing to do with each other.

NewbieGardener 5 years ago

Agreed. Idiotic statement. A 4-lane highway surely saves lives...what kind of rationale is that?

John Hamm 5 years ago

That's right once again you have to blame the road instead of offering condolences to the family. What a twerp - other words do apply but I won't use 'em here.

sandrat7 5 years ago

This is a tragedy. Thoughts and prayers for the family. So very sorry for your loss.

Ron Holzwarth 5 years ago

I'm from a small town also, so I know how grief stricken the whole town is when a tragedy like this occurs. You can bet everyone in Lyndon knew her.

NewbieGardener 5 years ago

Seriously. The LJWorld staff are much more concerned with free speech protection than keeping a respectful and clean comment board. It's a shame.

lyndongirl 5 years ago

We will miss Cindy's bright smiling face every morning. May her family find peace.

cavtrooper 5 years ago

What this tragedy should make clear to ALL of us is this.. Life is short, and can end with no warning at all. Live your life to it's fullest every day. Because you really don't know. Cindy didn't. Bless her and keep her.

KansasPerson 5 years ago

This is a terrible tragedy. My heart goes out to the husband, family and friends.

As far as the first two comments, I also try not to follow trucks too closely when they're hauling stuff. I've seen stuff fly off too many times. However, if I'm reading the description in the article correctly, the couple was heading west (toward Topeka) and the truck/trailer was heading in the "oncoming" direction (it says eastbound at one point, and southbound at another, so I'm not sure). I'm only mentioning this because even if you're careful and don't follow trucks hauling things, horrible things can happen. Again, I feel terrible for her family.

loosecaboose 5 years ago

October 2006, we had the same thing happen to us just north of Baldwin City, except, we were not even injured. The driver of that truck probably never knew it happened either. But if it had hit just an inch or two lower, it would have hit me in the face. We were lucky it caught the metal at the top of the wind shield, and flew up.

jayhawkstalk 5 years ago

This is heartbreaking. What a terrible tragedy for that family. I can't stress enough that people need to be responsible. Tie your stuff down. Secure it. Don't attempt to do it half-assed. Things like this can be avoided with better care and attention. Something similar happened the same day in Independence. Terribly tragedies.

Charles L Bloss Jr 5 years ago

This is so sad. Sheriff Rex Johnson lost his son in a similar manner. If memory serves correctly, he was behind a large machine, like a tractor, and it came loose and slipped off of a flatbed truck, killing him as he was driving behind it. There should be murder charges for people who let things fly off of their vehicle and kill an innocent driver. I cringe whenever I have to drive near one of these, especially flying along the other way at 65-70 mph. No one could not know when something flies off of their truck and hits another vehicle. The coward just kept going. These people should be charged with murder. Thank you, Lynn

Charlie Bannister 5 years ago

Lynn731 you are mistaken on the facts of Rex Johnson's son. He was driving a semi pulling a flat bed trailer for Hamm's. A guy that was impaired crossed the center line and hit him head on. The piece of equipment that he was hauling on the flat bed trailer came loose and went into the cab of the truck, crushing him to death.

Condolences to the Burnett's.

number1jayhawker 5 years ago

Actually kosmo513 is pretty spot on. Rex told me the driver was issued a DUI.

equalaccessprivacy 5 years ago

This is so sad! Blessings for the family.

Bob Burton 5 years ago

I will play the devils advocate.. How due you know for sure that it fell off of the pick-up or trailer.. What if the trailer tire flipped it up off of the road,then whos fault is it ?? Lets wait for the real answers..

Kelly Johnson 5 years ago

My sympathy to her family and friends. What a terrible tragedy.

kscowboy79 5 years ago

Heard the found out the person who caused this. We see these trucks with scrap and and trailers with scrap on them, they all look very dangerous. Now we got proff what they can do.

Armbrister ya should be ashamed of yourself by helping out an fellow Balwin man getting off on killing an innocient woman. He should be charged with something!

Jayson Hawk 5 years ago

The truck driver definitely should be charged with something! Truck drivers hauling any kind of material or debris should be required to make sure it is secured.

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