Two people injured in pickup-semi crash on U.S. Highway 24 in Jefferson County

Two people suffered life-threatening injuries early Friday morning when a pickup truck collided with a semitrailer on U.S. Highway 24 northwest of Lawrence.

According to the Kansas Highway Patrol, Gary Daniel Koelliker, 19, Highland, was driving a pickup west on Highway 24, just east of Perry. He apparently pulled the 1992 Nissan pickup onto the right shoulder in preparation to make a U-turn.

At the same time, a semi that was behind the pickup moved over into the eastbound lane.

When Koelliker tried to make the U-turn, his pickup crashed into the semi, a highway patrol report said.

Koelliker was taken by ambulance to Stormont-Vail Regional Healthcare in Topeka. His passenger, Dyllon Butrick, 20, White Cloud, was flown by Lifestar air ambulance to KU Hospital in Kansas City, Kan.

The truck driver, John J. Douglas, 39, South Bend, Ind., was not injured.

The accident occurred about 1:45 a.m., and the highway was closed until about 8 a.m., according to Kimberly Qualls, Kansas Department of Transportation spokeswoman.

Jeremy Rodecap, assistant fire chief for Jefferson County Fire District No. 3, was among emergency personnel who responded to the accident.

He said Koelliker and Butrick were ejected from the pickup. The accident report said Koelliker and Butrick were not wearing seat belts but that Douglas was.

“It was one of the worst ones I’ve seen in quite awhile,” Rodecap said.

The crash remained under investigation Friday morning. An accident reconstruction team from the Kansas Highway Patrol completed work at the scene about 8 a.m., Rodecap said. Information about Butrick’s condition was not available Friday, and a Stormont-Vail spokeswoman said Koelliker’s family had not authorized the hospital to release his condition.