Archive for Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Physician at KU’s Watkins Memorial Health Center identified as pedestrian struck by train

September 18, 2012, 12:27 p.m. Updated September 18, 2012, 8:35 p.m.


Police cars mark the scene where a pedestrian was killed after being struck by a train Monday, Sept. 17, 2012. A person was hit by a freight train near the Santa Fe Depot.

Police cars mark the scene where a pedestrian was killed after being struck by a train Monday, Sept. 17, 2012. A person was hit by a freight train near the Santa Fe Depot.

Pedestrian struck and killed by train

A pedestrian was struck and killed by a train Monday morning in east Lawrence, said Lawrence Police Sgt. Trent McKinley. Railroad workers called the incident in at around 11:10 a.m. Police secured an area near the Santa Fe railroad station on Seventh and New York streets, and were investigating along with BSNF staff. Enlarge video

Lawrence police identified a 56-year-old Lawrence physician as the pedestrian who was struck and killed by a train Monday morning in east Lawrence.

Patricia A. Denning was found near the Santa Fe Railroad station at Seventh and New York streets about 11:10 a.m. Monday.

No foul play is suspected in her death, Sgt. Trent McKinley said on Tuesday.

Denning practiced internal medicine and was a staff physician at Kansas University’s Watkins Memorial Health Center for 23 years. She served as chief of staff from 2005 to July 2012. Denning oversaw the community health response to outbreaks of mumps and H1N1. She also helped establish the Student Health Services Travel Clinic, which offers counseling, immunizations and health advice for those planning to travel out of the United States.

KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said in a statement, “Her contributions to the health and well-being of our students will be felt for years to come. Our thoughts and prayers are with her loved ones.”

Denning, originally from Topeka, was married to Dr. Dale Denning, a general surgeon and founder of the Lawrence Vein Center at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. The couple moved to Lawrence in 1989 and have three children.

“She will be greatly missed,” said Nikki White, executive director of Health Care Access, a medical clinic in Lawrence that serves the uninsured. She said Patricia Denning volunteered her time at the clinic and attended nearly every fundraiser. “We are very saddened to hear of her death.”

Patricia Denning served on the Douglas County Dental Board and Lawrence Memorial Hospital Endowment Association Board.

Kathy Clausing-Willis, LMH vice president and chief development officer, said Patricia Denning served on the LMHEA Board from 2002 to 2008 and was the key motivator behind getting the surgery area renovated and expanded as part of a much larger $50 million project at the hospital. She saw the need for a better surgery area and insisted that it be included.

“Patricia was persistent,” Clausing-Willis said. “She thought they could get other doctors to help, and she did with the help of her husband, Dale. They raised a significant amount of money from the physicians.”

The $14 million surgery area opened in March 2009.

“She was an unbelievable individual,” Clausing-Willis said. “She was a mother of three, a professional woman, and I sat by her on the way to some meeting, and she was crocheting. There were not very many things that she could not master, and she was involved in a lot of things.”

For several years, Patricia Denning helped organize LMH Endowment’s annual “Stepping Out Against Breast Cancer Dance,” which raises funds to support the LMH Breast and Oncology Centers. She and her husband rarely missed the event, and they were known for sporting memorable costumes, among them: a pope and naughty nun, Mae West and W.C. Fields, and Hugh Hefner and a Playboy bunny.

“We’ve had some wild costumes,” Dale Denning said. “She and I loved to swing dance, and so that gave us a chance to dance.”

Patricia Denning

Patricia Denning

Denning described his wife of 30 years as thoughtful, energetic, smart and talented. He said she was passionate about giving back to the community, and so their family served meals at a homeless shelter and was active in church, the United Way of Douglas County and Lawrence public schools. She often knitted scarves and donated them to nonprofit organizations.

“She just felt very strongly that it’s important for us to give back to our community because we had been so blessed and there are so many people who are less fortunate than us,” Dale Denning said.

A Parish Rosary will be at 5 p.m. Thursday at Corpus Christi Catholic Church, 6001 Bob Billings Parkway, followed by visitation until 8 p.m. The Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10 a.m. Friday at the church. Private inurnment will be at a later date.

Sgt. McKinley said Tuesday that Patricia Denning was dead when emergency workers arrived. He said railroad workers initiated an emergency brake at some point, but he said it’s not clear how much warning workers had before the incident.

On New York Street, where the train crosses north of Seventh Street, there is an active warning system with automatic gates and flashing lights. Andy Williams, a spokesman for Burlington Northern Santa Fe, which was operating the train, said the gates and lights were in proper working order during the incident.

The train was carrying 55 cars and heading west toward Topeka, Williams said.

At this point, the police investigation into the incident is nearly complete, and McKinley said he doesn’t anticipate much more information being released.


always4ever 5 years, 9 months ago

Just a reminder for everyone to be considerate with their comments during this extremely difficult time. We lost a good one!

KCMO_Jayhawk 5 years, 9 months ago

This is just awful. My condolences to Dr. Denning's family and friends. I graduated from KU in recent years and Dr. Denning saw me many, many times due to my sever allergies and asthma. She was an amazing doctor!! I am just beyond shocked. Again, my condolences to her family and friends. You all will be in my family's prayers.

Steve Bunch 5 years, 9 months ago

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lawrenceborn7 5 years, 9 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Gary Denning 5 years, 9 months ago

This is a very sad story for her husband and children as well as the University community.

HuskerNLawrence 5 years, 9 months ago

Horrible, shocking, and a tragic loss. She was a wonderful physician and person. We have lost a Lawrence gem.

Marcia Epstein 5 years, 9 months ago

Very sad news that affects so many. The death of Patricia Denning who served as a physician at KU's Watkins Health Center & volunteered in our community.

And the train crew is also changed forever.

Although it's natural to wonder why... what is helpful is to feel the sadness of loss, to honor the memory of the person's life, and to state to closest friends & family of the deceased, "I am so sorry for your loss."

And to the train crew, as well as first responders and media reps, "I am so sorry."

local_support 5 years, 9 months ago

I have been seeing Dr. Denning for the past several months. She was the first doctor I had been to in several years. She was kind and compassionate. She also made sure I followed through on her instructions. : ) The community has lost a great physician.

Maddy Griffin 5 years, 9 months ago

Such sa dnews. A horrible loss. Condolences to the family, friends and all involved.

trinity 5 years, 9 months ago

My deepest condolences to family, friends, colleauges...I'm so very sorry for your loss.

RiverCityJules 5 years, 9 months ago

Patricia was such a beacon of laughter and light, she will be missed so very much.

Shaun Hittle 5 years, 9 months ago

In reference to whether the lights were working, BSNF says they were, as well as automatic gates at the 7th and NY intersection.

Shaun LJW

midwestmom 5 years, 9 months ago

How terrible. I am so sorry for your loss.

Lawrenceks 5 years, 9 months ago

In other words, as usual, the LJWorld is not going to tell you what happened!

jhawkinsf 5 years, 9 months ago

Private matters should remain private.

chootspa 5 years, 9 months ago

A well-respected member of the community died. That's what happened.

fhwrightiv 5 years, 9 months ago

My condolences to Dr Denning's family. She was an outstanding member of the Lawrence community and will be missed by her family and friends.

Christine Anderson 5 years, 9 months ago

I think the reasons for LJW not divulging further details are self-apparent. Let us think of her husband, children, extended family, friends, and collegues at this time.

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