Archive for Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Names of driver and cyclist in Tuesday accident released

November 14, 2012


Medics load an injured cyclist onto an air ambulance in Memorial Stadium's parking lot. The cyclist was injured when he was struck by an SUV at the intersection of 11th and Kentucky streets on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012.

Medics load an injured cyclist onto an air ambulance in Memorial Stadium's parking lot. The cyclist was injured when he was struck by an SUV at the intersection of 11th and Kentucky streets on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012.

Lawrence police investigate a vehicle-versus-bicycle accident at 11th and Kentucky streets. The cyclist suffered critical injuries and was flown by air ambulance to a Kansas City-area hospital.

Lawrence police investigate a vehicle-versus-bicycle accident at 11th and Kentucky streets. The cyclist suffered critical injuries and was flown by air ambulance to a Kansas City-area hospital.

Police identified a cyclist hit by a sport utility vehicle Tuesday afternoon near 11th and Kentucky streets as Donald L. Varnau, 64, of Lawrence.

Varnau, who was wearing a helmet, was sent by air ambulance to Kansas University Hospital after suffering critical injuries when he collided with an SUV about 3:15 p.m.

Lawrence Police Sgt. Trent McKinley said officers were still investigating, but released this preliminary recap of the accident:

The SUV, driven by William J. Wozniak, 20, of Dellwood, Minn., was westbound on 11th Street, while Varnau was eastbound on 11th Street. At the Kentucky Street intersection, Varnau failed to yield to the SUV while attempting to turn left onto Kentucky.

Wozniak did not show signs of impairment, police said, and he was not issued a ticket.

A condition update on Varnau was not available Wednesday morning.

McKinley said police are looking for eyewitnesses and urged anyone who saw the accident to call Lawrence police at 832-7509.

Google Map

Cyclist and SUV collision

View Cyclist and vehicle collision Tuesday in a larger map


blindrabbit 1 year, 5 months ago

Hope both are alright after this unfortunate accident. Not a comment on this particular incident, but based on my observations many bicycle riders operate as though the traffic laws do not pertain to them. This is most obvious about obeying stop signs, riders routinely coast thru; interestingly I don't see motorcycle operators behaving the same way. The problem with this is, if they are in an accident it is they that are likely to reap the consequences.


juma 1 year, 5 months ago

Have a suggestion: Instead of spending (wasting) $25+million on a rec center that is questionable, why not spend that money on real bike lanes around the city. Then Lawrence could really claim to be a 'different' Kansas town.


Sarah St. John 1 year, 5 months ago

I am so sorry to read about this. My prayers are with the cyclist and his family, as well as with the SUV driver -- how horrible he must be feeling.


family1st 1 year, 5 months ago

With only the driver's account of what happened, of course it is the cyclist's fault. The police are looking for witnesses to determine what actually happened. If anyone saw the accident happen PLEASE contact the Lawrence Police. And IF you were NOT there and did NOT see it happen, please refrain from passing judgement and posting negative and inflamatory comments. A person and his family are hurting, be HUMAN and Compassionate. There is a time and place to get on your soap box and THIS IS NOT IT.


jjinks 1 year, 5 months ago

If it were not for good drivers in cars there would be a lot more accidents like these. I have always figured that the bigger vehicle has the right-of-way. If I'm on a bike it's the car, if in a car it's the semi, if in a semi it's the train. Pretty good thinking and it's worked for me pretty dang good. Probably would of worked good for Varnau also. If motorcyclist road like bicyclist do they would outlaw motorcycles.


thuja 1 year, 5 months ago

Automobiles have to be one of the worst of human inventions.

Just look around. What a mess.


thuja 1 year, 5 months ago

" When I have to quit riding, it is time to start piling on the dirt."

Rock on and ride on, landb.


bearded_gnome 1 year, 5 months ago

a 64 year old man lies critically injured in hospital, will he live?

I pray he will.

is he in mighty pain? I bet he is!

48 comments and 45 of them had commenters bringing in their own agenda; no concern for this man. he just made one error and turned in front of an oncoming SUV. we've got the antibikes, the probikes, heck we've even got the proearther/european lifestyle dude (bikeguy above).

but here we have in an instant our64 year old fellow citizen suffering a tragedy beyond most of our own personal experience!

he won't be the same if he survives.

praying for him.


Linda and Bill Houghton 1 year, 5 months ago

jayhawinsf: Your post points out the reason that the experienced rider will ride in the street on 23rd/Clinton Parkway. The motorists are not looking for someone on the sidewalk. On the rare occasions that I do use the sidewalk I am almost panicky that someone will left turn or right turn into me. There was an accident at 23rd and Naismith a few months ago where a pedestrian or cyclist on that southside sidewalk was going the opposite direction (westbound) of the traffic. The driver on Naismith only looked left (where the traffic was coming from) and turned right when there was a break in the automobile traffic.


Linda and Bill Houghton 1 year, 5 months ago

Oneeye Wilbur: I almost never go from Louisiana to Massachusetts on 11th. I do have a hill training ride that I do occasionally. It goes both directions on 12th, 13th, and 14th, but only up hill on 11th. Most of my in town riding is running errands, particularly after having a massive maintenance bill on our 200,000 mile car 1st quarter this year. The errands typically use 31st , 23rd/Clinton Parkway, 19th Street and 6th Street for east/west, Wakarusa, Kasold, Tennessee, and Kentucky for north/south. If I am going to Walmart and Walmart Recycling I make the bicycle haters happy and use th bike path.

Tomatogrower: "It has been determined the the cyclist was at fault." I am not sure whether we have eye-witnesses or this is just the driver's story.


tomatogrower 1 year, 5 months ago

I see a lot of bad cyclists and a lot of bad drivers. It has been determined that the cyclist was at fault. I just think the police need to fine more drivers and cyclists both. I've seen police cars not go after someone running a red light in a car, and they never go after a cyclist running a red light. Bicycles need to follow the same rules as cars, except there are some places in town where it's safer if they are on the sidewalk. Also, get lots of lights and reflectors. Buy a neon vest to wear. I don't know how many times I've been surprised by a cyclist wearing dark colors and not even a reflector. As an old biker friend (motorcycle) used to tell me: "Drive (ride) like everyone is out to get you." I always follow well behind a bicycle until I can safely pass them, especially since I drive a Prius, and I know they can't always hear me. But I expect hand signals and other courtesies from them as well. I used to ride, and always stopped at stop signs, even when there were no cars around. I always gave hand signals, even when there were no cars around. It just isn't that difficult. I have a feeling these same cyclist who don't signal or stop, don't use their turn signals or stop in cars either.


Linda and Bill Houghton 1 year, 5 months ago

I couldn't get this to post after the appropriate comment--the one by one-eyed wilbur. I am 77 and will quit when I become a hazard for the drivers that accept bicyclists. I ride a lot and have done so for 66 years now. In 2011 I rode a series of distance rides, 125 to 250 miles. I didn't ride them as fast as I would have liked but still finished them well within the time limits specified for the rides. I hope to do the series again in 2013 and to be in better shape than I was a year ago. When I have to quit riding, it is time to start piling on the dirt.


jayhawkster 1 year, 5 months ago

I ride for both pleasure and transportation. And I have a concealed carry permit. I'm courteous and obey traffic laws. But I'm also prepared.


Getaroom 1 year, 5 months ago

No matter what, this is a tragic accident and respect for everyone concerned should be honored. No one on this blog actually knows knows anything for certain. If anyone of you negative commenters were involved you would desire the same respect.


bikeguy 1 year, 5 months ago

Umm bike culture vs the SUV Culture yes there will be more causalities in the coming years. Overweight disabled by their immersions of the American Corporate dream of big cars and big gulps and the cyclist of sustainability radicalism of not stopping at stop signs and agitation of motorist and getting ran over by those who see their lifestyle slipping away.


irvan moore 1 year, 5 months ago

i ride my bike on the sidewalk (legal as long as not downtown), feel a lot safer and it's easy to pull over or stop when pedestrians are sharing the sidewalk


57chevy 1 year, 5 months ago

This accident is further proof of why its better to commit murder than assault. That way, the only side of the story told is yours. I have a really hard time believing that a cyclist could move fast enough to get hit after turning left at say 8-10mph. He would then need to get in front of an SUV that is going straight after just stopping at an intersection, moving at say 10-15mph. LPD probably doesn't want to investigate the likelihood that the entire story is BS and the bicyle was going straight at, say 15-20mph and Mr. Minnesota blew through the stop sign as many of the locals here do. Then again, I believe its a right of passage to mow down a biker or two when you attend KU, isn't it? Certainly happens enough. Cars run stop signs and get nothing but a ticket. A biker runs a stop sign and gets dead. I'm pretty sure Darwin's law of survival of the fittest applies here. It means that if you either ride a bicycle or believe in evolution you should get the hell out of Kansas. If you live somewhere else, your neighbors will know that killing their neighbor's is bad. understand that riding a bicycle is not worthy of the death penalty, and will treat you with respect. Surprisingly enough, in many states, running over a bicyclist is considered a crime. That seems unlikely to happen here.


Paul Peters 1 year, 5 months ago

I drive a car and ride a bike. I also know Don fairly well and have ridden with him many times. I find most drivers to be courteous, but not all. Most bicycle riders are courteous too, but not all of them either. Thoughtless drivers and bike riders irritate me too. Don is an experienced rider who is far from a risk taker and probably never offended a flea on purpose. Accidents happen to the best of us.


FlintlockRifle 1 year, 5 months ago

I used to ride a bike here in town, gave it up about 4 years ago, way to much traffic for a person on two wheels


oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 5 months ago

At any age it is difficult to ride a bike on the streets of Lawrence.But at 64 I would get off the streets!


SloMo 1 year, 5 months ago

If you don't bicycle, you might not realize it, but the safest way for a bicyclist to go through an intersection is to move into the center of the lane and take a whole turn going through the intersection, just as a car would. That's the best way to avoid getting hit by a turning car, and it's also perfectly legal. If a bicyclist does this you should not try to pass him. Of course, once through the intersection, the bicyclist should move back over to the right.


jd1701d 1 year, 5 months ago

I believe that a lot of bikers do cause loads of problems. What I've seen is bikers in the middle of the road, not ridding in single file, not stopping for signs and lights and not using the biking lane even when it's right next to them. I think that the city/state should run a long term bikers safety program for everyone so everyone can be safer, I'm tired of hearing about bikers getting hurt or dying because of people both bikers and drivers not understanding the biking laws.

Are all bikers doing things wrong? No, most bikers in town are ding their best but there are those who are doing things wrong and dangerously. There have been times where I had my turn signal on to turn and while I was starting to turn this biker, in full biker gear, came flying from behind me going straight cutting me off, if I hadn't been able to stop in time I would have ran him over. And don't get me started on those bikers every week south of town.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 5 months ago

BTW, it would appear that the bike rider was at fault here, and he paid a very high price for it. Serious bike riders understand that you don't turn left in front of an SUV (or anyone else.) I wonder if he misjudged the speed of the SUV.


dlkrm 1 year, 5 months ago

Sometimes we just have to swerve over the center line? Bozo, you're out of your mind!


melott 1 year, 5 months ago

Thing is, I see far more cyclists breaking the law than following i t.


lawrencian 1 year, 5 months ago

Boy, am I tired of this anti-bicyclist attitude. Bergerfry, you exemplify a lot of attitudes seen around this forum, around this town, and generally around the whole state.

Why in the world does the occasional accident, even at the fault of the cyclist, give you the latitude to say "Bicycles are becoming a nuisance?" What about the hundreds of people who bicycle safely, using turn signals, yielding to traffic appropriately, and stopping at every damn stop sign, putting a foot down, and then starting off pretty freaking slowly, even when there is no one else at the intersection.

When I ride my bike, which I do for both fitness and transportation when the weather is reasonable (i.e. not raining, snowing, sleeting, temps above 40 for my asthma, etc), I've stopped being shocked by car drivers' unbelievably bad attitudes towards me. I ride as far right as is safe (not in the curb/gutter, but pretty close), stop along the side instead of swerving in front of cars that are moving faster than me in order to turn left behind them instead of in front of them, and yet people still behave as if I am that NUISANCE.

How about NOT painting everyone with the same paintbrush? I'm not the guy who cuts in front of a car to avoid stopping. I'm not the guy who runs the stop sign or red light. I'm just a girl trying to be healthier and get where I need to go. Give me a break!


Russell Fryberger 1 year, 5 months ago

Bicycles are becoming a nuisance. I'm OK with cyclists in general but when they ride down the middle of the street impeding traffic I do want to poke a stick in the front forks as I go by. More and more I am having to swerve over the center line to avoid these traffic hazards. Bicycles do not go the posted speed limit in most cases so those folks need to get out of the way.

In short, get out of the way, cars are moving faster for a reason.


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