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Archive for Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pickup truck driver says he had no idea a piece came off his vehicle, killing passenger in vehicle on SLT

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 7, 2011

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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

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.

The driver of a pickup truck hauling scrap metal told a Douglas County Sheriff’s detective he didn’t know anything had fallen from his trailer last week or that it had struck and killed a woman on the South Lawrence Trafficway west of Lawrence.

Cindy Burnett, 47, Lyndon, died after she was struck by a piece of metal that pierced the windshield of the vehicle she was riding in with her husband, Jeff Burnett, about noon May 31 just north of the Kansas Highway 10 bridge over Clinton Parkway.

Immediately after the accident, deputies asked for the public’s help and were searching for the driver of the pickup truck hauling the trailer. The sheriff’s office through an accident report provided to the Journal-World Tuesday identified the driver of the other vehicle as 20-year-old Nicholas Rockhold of Baldwin City.

The report also includes some new details about accident:

• The blue pickup truck — owned by Jayhawk Excavating of rural Baldwin City, according to the report — Rockhold was driving was headed west. He later turned onto U.S. Highway 40 and eventually took several items from his trailer to a recycling center in Topeka. Initially sheriff’s investigators believed the metal fell from a truck that was headed east on the SLT or the opposite direction of Burnett’s Dodge pickup truck.

• Sheriff’s Detective Jay Armbrister wrote in his report Rockhold said all items on his trailer were chained down and that he stopped two separate times to make sure the load hadn’t shifted and the chains securing it had not loosened.

“When we described the area in which this crash occurred, Rockhold thought it might have been possible that an item could have come out of a container when he hit the bumps where the pavement meets the bridge on K-10 over the top of Clinton Parkway,” Armbrister wrote. “He said that there are three ‘really bad bumps’ in that area.”

• The detective also said Rockhold became emotional when officers told him a piece of scrap metal had struck and killed the passenger of a vehicle following him.

• Investigators determined another westbound car was traveling between the truck Rockhold was driving and Burnett’s pickup truck at the time of the accident. A passenger in the middle vehicle, Karen Mattox of Topeka, told investigators she watched an object come out of the trailer as the truck hit a bump going over the bridge over Clinton Parkway.

• She said the object apparently fell into the eastbound lane and struck a small maroon eastbound car, which sheriff’s officials have not located, according to the report. The object flew over the top of the Mattox’s car, and her husband John Mattox said he then looked into his rearview mirror and saw a white pickup truck — determined to be the Burnetts’ truck — pull over on the side of the road.

• Sheriff’s Sgt. Lyle Hagenbuch described the metal object found in the cab of Burnett’s pickup truck as a tooth from the bucket of a front-end loader used to dig at construction sites.

Sgt. Steve Lewis, a sheriff’s spokesman, said Tuesday no arrests had been made and no citations had been issued in connection with the accident. Lewis said information from the investigation would likely be forwarded to the district attorney’s office to determine if any charges might be filed.

Comments

Steve Jacob 3 years, 6 months ago

I just don't see any criminal charges for this. A ticket and a large civil lawsuit is the result. Just bad all around. Give credit to the police to finding the truck.

windjammer 3 years, 6 months ago

I see a ticket for this. The driver of any vehicle transporting any load on large over the road trailers or small junk trailers is responsible for the security of that load. It is the law. Being a owner operator of a semi truck and trailer I've seen far too many of these accidents and death. If it would have been a large semi truck the outcry from the public would have reached to the state house. All loads of this nature need side boards and tarp with straps over the tarp. No exceptions. It is time all trucks and trailers of any size that are transporting commercial loads are subject to all of the rules large road trucks are under, including lawn equiptment in a commercial business. That includes all proper permits with the DOT(Department of Transportation) and all road user fees for commercial vehicles. Don't be fooled by the signs you see on the rear of these trucks that say they are not responsible for broken windshields. The only time a truck is not responsible is when a object is kicked up by a tire the same as a private car. If it comes off you load you are at fault.

Jock Navels 3 years, 6 months ago

Government regulations such as windjammer mentions come about because first, people act irresponsibly on their own, so a social organization with clout (government) steps in with regs. It's not the other way around. First comes abuse of the social contract. second comes regulation to try and halt the abuse. If someone doesn't have the common sense to batten down their load on a public thoroughfare, then the regulations become necessary for the safety of others.

Currahee 3 years, 6 months ago

Oh geez, how heartbreaking. It's not really anyone's fault. Now it just seems like a huge freak accident. I feel so sorry for the guy who drove the car and didn't realize anything fell off. I mean, how do you notice a tooth missing and think, "oh hey a tooth is gone maybe it killed someone...."

Just an accident. Many prayers for all families involved...

walkthehawk 3 years, 6 months ago

Sadly, if you don't secure your load, it IS your fault. It's a matter of who could more easily have foreseen (and thus avoided) the accident, and in this case, it's the hauler; innocent drivers have NO way of knowing what's headed toward them on any given road and acting accordingly. This kid sounds like a decent guy and my heart goes out to him--to both families--but a load like this on a bumpy road needs to be covered, at minimum. A tragic accident, but where your negligent planning takes someone else's life, you pay. Not because you're a bad person, per se. But because you chose not to pay the costs of carrying it the right way, so you get to pay the costs of "cleaning up" what happened--ie, compensating the victim.

walkthehawk 3 years, 6 months ago

Sadly, if you don't secure your load, it IS your fault. It's a matter of who could more easily have foreseen (and thus avoided) the accident, and in this case, it's the hauler; innocent drivers have NO way of knowing what's headed toward them on any given road and acting accordingly. This kid sounds like a decent guy and my heart goes out to him--to both families--but a load like this on a bumpy road needs to be covered, at minimum. A tragic accident, but where your negligent planning takes someone else's life, you pay. Not because you're a bad person, per se. But because you chose not to pay the costs of carrying it the right way, so you get to pay the costs of "cleaning up" what happened--ie, compensating the victim.

Currahee 3 years, 6 months ago

What? So does "properly securing a load" now include boxing things up? If the entire thing fell apart at the bumps and killed someone then maybe I could understand improperly securing something. This is a piece of metal that broke off after hitting a bump. It's akin to let's say hitting a bump so a piece falls off your car and then hits and kills someone.

conservative 3 years, 6 months ago

Actually i suspect there will be charges filed. Whoever loaded the truck and didn't properly secure the load is responsible. The driver also is responsible. Tragic and accidental but still criminally negligent

windjammer 3 years, 6 months ago

What efforts? The load was not secured properly at the originating point. There are extreme deficiencys in most every road in the country. All the more reason to secure the load properly.

billnict 3 years, 6 months ago

It may have started out being secured; we don't know that for sure though. Sounds like the young man did his due diligence stopping to check the load twice so in my mind it was a tragic chain of events that took place...

engagedecoy 3 years, 6 months ago

Last time i checked, K-10 was still smoother than 59/56/24/40 Highways.

jlzack 3 years, 6 months ago

Not on that particular curve it's not. I'm affraid of throwing the front end of my truck out of alignment on those bumps, even slowing down, they are TERRIBLE!!! and there is no way to avoid them, they go all the way accross both lanes.

Jimo 3 years, 6 months ago

"Whoever loaded the truck and didn't properly secure the load is responsible."

Your evidence of this? The something fell out? Sorry, but that's a circular argument. A load isn't improperly secured just because something goes wrong. To sustain a charge of criminal negligence you would have to show that the means of securing was unreasonable. No fact presented here supports that claim. Perhaps the load was secured only by kite string - that might support such a charge (but that's just making up unlikely facts).

By your definition, every accident, by its nature, must be criminal negligence. That isn't the law and never has been. If it were, the world would be paralyzed with inaction.

Terry Jacobsen 3 years, 6 months ago

Wrong. It is not criminally negligent. You should really check your facts. Do you know that even if you run a stop sign and hurt someone else, many courts are finding that you are not negligent. Doesn't make sense, but it's true. This is an accident. Nothing but an accident and they guy was using "resonable" caution in checking his load. No charges will be filed. Perhaps a civil lawsuit, but nothing criminal.

Dirtman24 3 years, 6 months ago

infact very bad, I have almost been hit head on and or side swiped by vehicles after hitting those bumps, I don't even drive SLT anymore as its become unsafe and clearly the bumps at the trust of the bridge which is a BIG BIG NO NO folks!!!!! where the foundation(DIRT) is meeting bridge foundation is falling as you can see it. IMO someone made a very very bad mistake when it was built.

This is wrong and those bumps have been there for a while and have become worse, now someone has passed with the bumps involvement I hope the county steps up quick to repair both ends of this bridge area, not sure if city can be held for something outside of city limits, I think its the county, but I can be wrong.

So sorry to the family, inspectors should of done their jobs better!! Too Sad, family in my prayers

tomatogrower 3 years, 6 months ago

The state, not the county. The state of Kansas built this road.

lawupsman 3 years, 6 months ago

Horrible bumps on the new turnpike bridges as well. Hard to believe newly constructed bridges would turn out this way. I was behind a semi the other day carrying long metal pipes and kept my distance because of the accident on the bypass. I don't know much about building bridges but for 200+ million dollars you would think the transition from bridge to asphalt and vice versa would be a lot smoother.

jackpot 3 years, 6 months ago

They are not done yet. Still working on the third lanes.

jsbreith 3 years, 6 months ago

Those bumps are awful!!! I'm surprised it hasn't happened before now. I think the State is responsible for that road. Something needs to be done! We travel that road several times each day. We also get the pleasure of hearing the annoying sounds of semi's hitting those bumps all day and night!! Prayers go out to all those involved! Somebody FIX the problem!!!

TopJayhawk 3 years, 6 months ago

very sad, my thoughts are with both families.

hipper_than_hip 3 years, 6 months ago

You are responsible for anything that falls out of your vehicle. If that means you need a tarp or a net to secure small items, then that's what you need.

Ken Lassman 3 years, 6 months ago

Was the tooth in the trailer loose, or did it become dislodged from the bucket of the front end loader when it hit the bump? Seems like if it was just laying on a flatbed trailer bed, there could be a problem, but if the trailer had sides or it was in the bucket and became dislodged by the bump, then it would seem to me to be a road problem, not a reasonable precaution problem.

KayCee 3 years, 6 months ago

Finally a point made of where the tooth was. The LOAD was secured, but what about the tooth? A flatbed trailer would never retain a loose tooth despite the rest of the load being tied.

jlzack 3 years, 6 months ago

after reading the article again, it sounds like the tooth was in a container, but after hitting the bumps, it must have bounced out.

windjammer 3 years, 6 months ago

Law enforcement's plea to the public was full outright intential and incorrect information.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 6 months ago

Sometimes accidents, even horrible ones, are just that, accidents. If the authorities believe that the events unfolded as described here, then they should just let it go, no charges. My sympathies to friends and family who lost a loved one.

jlzack 3 years, 6 months ago

The bumps on this curve are so much worse than those going over I-70.

clovis_sangrail 3 years, 6 months ago

K.S.A. 21-3405: Vehicular homicide. Vehicular homicide is the unintentional killing of a human being committed by the operation of an automobile, airplane, motor boat or other motor vehicle in a manner which creates an unreasonable risk of injury to the person or property of another and which constitutes a material deviation from the standard of care which a reasonable person would observe under the same circumstances.

It doesn't say you have to hit them with the vehicle; it just says " committed by the operation of an automobile ."

The questions would be

(1) Did this create "an unreasonable risk of injury to the person or property of another"?

(2)Did failing to secure that load properly constitute "a material deviation from the standard of care which a reasonable person would observe under the same circumstances."

Discuss. Include examples to support your conclusion. When the proctor calls "Time," put your pencils down and pass your papers to the front of the room.

blindrabbit 3 years, 6 months ago

Don't know when driver "turned himself in" but it seems kinda late to me! Based on the story being reported quickly by the JW, and covered throughout the county, the driver should have suspected himself rather quickly. The time of the incident was accurate, the falling object observed and recovered and the driver knew what he was hauling!! Unfortunate for all!

Kyle Chandler 3 years, 6 months ago

Not everyone sits on a computer reading these redundant posts on a puny newspaper website. You act as if FOX news put an APB out or something. I go several days without looking at the paper/website and i work at a desk. Someone who works outdoors isn't locked into the multimedia experience so just back off. Ridiculous and Insensitive you are.

Terry Jacobsen 3 years, 6 months ago

What a ridiculous premise. There are thousands of people in this town who did not know and still do not know about this situation. Not everyone is up-to-date on local news or happenings. Some people actually have to work so much that they don't have time to read the paper or a computer news story.

thebigspoon 3 years, 6 months ago

Nick, I'm really, really sorry for the incident. Comments here, I am sure, are not made to make you feel any worse than you already do. Whatever happens, know that you, as a person, are not beging attacked, and my sympathy goes out to you. You are a fine young man from a fine family who has had a tragic moment. Hang in there and you'll be ok.

To the family of the deceased, the same sympathies apply. It's never easy to lose someone, especially in a seemingly senseless way such as this. Please turn to your strengths and support network for help in dealing with this. Best wishes for all involved.

Honkeycat 3 years, 6 months ago

Well said bigspoon. Though I didn't know either party, they are all in my thoughs.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 3 years, 6 months ago

I know nothing of the driver's skills, training or safe loading experience, but I do know that there are some companies that hire drivers as cheaply as possible, in essence regarding the fellow behind the wheel as a necessary and expensive annoyance. I once intreviewed for a job with a former downtown printing establishment where the interviewer told me straight-faced that they were looking for someone to "clean the toilets and drive the truck". It is entirely possible that this driver simply was not carefully instructed on the safety of hauling loads of junk. I understand that he checked his load, but was he trained and competant to be doing this sort of potentially dangerous job? I do not fault the driver, but someone who put him in the position of creating this tragedy may not have done all he could to assure that the driver could do this job safely, road bumps or any other hazard a person might encounter in driving on the public roads.

love2fish_ks 3 years, 6 months ago

The DA should drop this. It was an accident pure and simple.

Unfortunately the DA will probably go forward.....darn lawyers.

Cimmy Redmond 3 years, 6 months ago

My heart still goes out to the family of the deceased, but now, also to Nick Rockhold. I hope no charges will be filed if he was doing his job properly and to the best of his ability, and if any lawsuits are filed, they're against the State in order to get K10 repaired.

whoknows 3 years, 6 months ago

My step-son and husband were coming home from the airport and a truck hauling a load of insulation lost part of the load on the interstate. My step-son wrecked because of this and guess who was at fault....him, not the guy driving the unsecured load!! This was preventable. This poor guy had a small object, that no matter how secure the load, it still could have gotten out. I personally know this guy and he is a very nice guy and this is just an unfortunate ACCIDENT!!! He had his load secured!! Why place the blame on this poor kid?!?!?

snook90 3 years, 6 months ago

Nick is a hard worker and a terrific person. No doubt in my mind he was doing his job properly. My sympathies to all parties involved!!

Liberty275 3 years, 6 months ago

My condolences to the victims. When following any vehicle pulling an open trailer with objects in/on it, it is common sense to allow about an eighth mile between vehicles unless you are in the middle of passing the towing vehicle.

I know if a bucket from a loader fell off a trailer in front of me there would be enough room for me to stop the car and pull 20 feet off the road before getting within 100 feet of the bucket.

This is what's wrong with America. They can force us into seatbelts with fines, but all they end up doing is dampening our innate ability to sense we are in a dangerous situation and make the appropriate correction.

Such fatalities are the fault of the nanny state that reduces our ability to protect ourselves. Instead of guarding our lives with reasoned actions, we trust the officially mandated two-second rule and a seatbelt will save us.

Apologies to the families for the rant.

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