Archive for Thursday, April 18, 2013

Former state representative Solbach critically injured after ATV and car collide

April 18, 2013, 5:00 p.m. Updated April 18, 2013, 5:55 p.m.


A 65-year-old former state representative suffered several broken bones but was expected to recover after the all-terrain vehicle he was driving collided with a car Thursday morning on a county road in western Douglas County.

John Solbach, a retired lawmaker and Lawrence attorney, was driving a Kawasaki Mule ATV west on Stull Road about 9 a.m., less than a mile east of Stull Cemetery, said Lt. Steve Lewis, a Douglas County Sheriff's Office spokesman.

The retired lawmaker was on his way to check on some of his cows in a nearby field when he entered the eastbound lane to make a left turn, Lewis said. A 1999 Ford Escort crested the hill traveling east and struck the ATV at highway speed, ejecting Solbach from his vehicle into a ditch. He was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident and was critically injured.

Air transportation was not available because of weather conditions, and Solbach was transported by ambulance to Stormont-Vail Hospital in Topeka. He was moved to Kansas University Hospital later on Thursday, and hospital staff could not be reached to provide his condition.

Solbach suffered several broken bones but was alert Thursday afternoon, said his wife, Pat. He will be at the hospital for some time, being treated for a broken hip, pelvis, clavicle, leg and arm. Even so, she said, he asked nurses on Thursday afternoon if he would be able to make it to a May 6 court hearing for his law practice.

"That's just how John is," Pat Solbach said. "He's right on top of things, and we're thankful for that."

Both the ATV and the car were severely damaged. The driver of the Ford Escort, Robert D. Warren Jr., 39, Lawrence, did not appear to have suffered serious injuries and declined medical attention, Lewis said. A passenger, Lindsey K. Scott, 33, Lawrence, suffered injuries that were not life-threatening and was transported to Lawrence Memorial Hospital. Both occupants of the car were wearing seat belts.

Solbach had expressed concerns about traffic and speeding on Stull Road more than a decade ago, when the county smoothed and repaved the road, which passes by his family's home and farm. Three people had been killed in accidents within a half mile of his house, and his family had lost several dogs and a cat to accidents caused in part by speeding drivers.

"It's a dangerous piece of road," he said then.

He welcomed the improvements but said he feared they might actually lead to heavier, faster traffic.

In the years since, Solbach has been known to drive all over that area in his ATV, acquaintances said. A Democrat representing Lawrence and western Douglas County for 14 years, he retired from the Legislature in 1992 to spend more time with his family and his law practice. He had been chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and served on the House Appropriations Committee for a decade. In 1998, he served on the state's ethics panel, the Kansas Commission on Governmental Standards and Conduct.

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Critical injury accident

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A 65-year-old Douglas County man driving an all-terrain vehicle was critically injured Thursday morning in a head-on collision with a car at 318 N. 1600 Road.


cheeseburger 5 years, 1 month ago

Are those ATV's authorized for use on roadways such as Stull Rd.?

riverdrifter 5 years, 1 month ago

Virtually every farm has and uses ATVs. Sometimes it's necessary to run on roads a ways to get the job done. Much of Stull road has steep banks and no shoulder for ATVs to drive on.

Teardrop 5 years, 1 month ago

I don't believe so. Dang, people, be careful! A seat belt probably wouldn't have done Mr. Solbach any good on a Mule getting hit at 55 mph (or 65 as some do on that highway). My grandfather checked cattle on foot or in a truck or on a tractor. Not as much fun as an ATV, but, except for on foot, certainly more visible and secure...and street legal.

Teardrop 5 years, 1 month ago

And I hope all involved will be well soon.

Bob Forer 5 years, 1 month ago

Actually, wearing a seat belt may have caused more severe injuries. According to the article, the car was traveling at "highway speed" when it struck the ATV. Had John remained attached to the ATV after impact, he probably would have been more severely injured, or perhaps even killed. Sounds like the impact quickly separated him from the ATV and he went flying, and was fortunate enough to land in a relative softness of a ditch as opposed to the pavement. If the ATV rolled and John had been attached, I would think the resulting truama would have been much more severe.

Bob Forer 5 years, 1 month ago

Depends on the year they were manufactured. There are a lot of 4 wheel ATVs out there with no roll cages.

Ian_Cummings 5 years, 1 month ago

ATVs are OK to drive on county roads. State law prohibits them from city streets and state and federal highways. Ian Cummings, LJW.

Richard Payton 5 years, 1 month ago

Hope a speedy recovery is had for Mr. Solbach.

Bob Forer 5 years, 1 month ago

John is a good guy. Hope he makes a speedy recovery.

Brian Dick 5 years, 1 month ago

Any word on the wreck yesterday on K10 and E1200 road just west of 59 intersection? Wife drove by and said a man was motionless and possibly stuck in his car. I never saw anything about it on here. Thanks

Ian_Cummings 5 years, 1 month ago

One man was taken to Lawrence Memorial Hospital with minor injuries from that accident. The Kansas Highway Patrol report is here: Ian Cummings, LJW.

Lathrup 5 years, 1 month ago

I happened to meet the man years ago. I wish him a speedy recovery.

ReneeBiberstein 5 years, 1 month ago

May God Bless John and his family !!!!!!!!!!!! He is one of the best and honest attorney's I have ever known !!!!! Some people think they are the only ones on the road at times or they are in such a hurry to get to the NEXT Stop Sign...... They forget they're in Kansas a farming state and farmers are on the roads all over the place on all kinds of vehicles. Sorry you had to be hit John to open some peoples eyes ! God speed my friend !!!

somebodynew 5 years, 1 month ago

And I am sorry, I too hope he recovers along with the other person, but Renee, did you read the article??? From what I read Mr. Solbach went left of center to make a left hand turn ("entered the eastbound lane"). From my understanding that is what used to be called a 'farmers turn' and you are driving left of center and near the top of a hill !! Even farmers have to obey the laws !!! Maybe you ought to get off your High Horse and just stick to riding the regular ones.

Susan Mangan 5 years, 1 month ago

I certainly won't purport to speak for Him. But my best guess is that He was there, preventing anyone from being killed. No one claims that God prevents all tragedy. But He can keep it from being worse, or help us get through it. To assume that, since tragedy occurs, that God must not exist is naive, and demonstrates a clear lack of understanding of Christian principles. Unfortunately, that's your loss.

babyphog1 5 years, 1 month ago

So God just wanted to get John's attention? I too wish John a speedy and complete recovery. However I will leave it up to John's doctors, not God, to achieve that result.

bearded_gnome 5 years, 1 month ago

Solbach had expressed concerns about traffic and speeding on Stull Road more than a decade ago, when the county smoothed and repaved the road, which passes by his family's home and farm. Three people had been killed in accidents within a half mile of his house, and his family had lost several dogs and a cat to accidents caused in part by speeding drivers.

"It's a dangerous piece of road," he said then.

He welcomed the improvements but said he feared they might actually lead to heavier, faster traffic.

---yes, sometimes you see the danger coming, warn of it, and it gets you.

praying for his pain relief, healing and recovery.

he is a good guy.

Mateosgranny 5 years, 1 month ago

My daughter is the young lady involved in this accident. Her seatbelt and airbags saved her life. She is very upset and concerned about Mr. Solbach. They were driving about 45 miles an hour as the weather was not good. The officers said they were in no way at fault as he was coming toward them in their lane. She immediately ran to Mr. Solbach concerned for his welfare before she even checked herself! She is bruised and battered but she is fine, Thank God! We pray Mr. Solbach has a speedy recovery!

somebodynew 5 years, 1 month ago

Thank you, and I hope your daughter heals quickly. That is the way I read the article also. Hope all heal quickly

bd 5 years, 1 month ago

A Kawasaki Mule is a side by side machine that has a bench seat for two and has a steering wheel, it is a UTV not an ATV.

chargeit 5 years, 1 month ago

I feel for Mr Solbach and wish him a speedy recovery. His actions were illegal and have a degree of inherent danger. The vehicle, while legal to operate on the road was operating illegally in the wrong lane. Mr Solbach himself has been quoted as saying the road does have an an elevated risk and chose to operate a wide, slow, low, less visible, open vehicle, in poor weather, without a helmet - not exactly prudent judgment. Watch for pressure on county government to change the speed limit or other enforcement due to the imprudence of an individual with connections. As someone who has used this road thousands of times over 25 years, it is a county road, not an improved highway, not much has changed but the newer houses that have CHOSEN to live and build seem to have the attitude that since they are here now, the road should change for them. Granted in Mr Solbach's case, he has lived in Stull for sometime, he appears to have the same opinion.

markcosby 5 years, 1 month ago

Our prayers for Mr. Solbach's speedy recovery. No doubt this war hero is as tough as they come. Get better fast!

mateosmom 5 years, 1 month ago

Hi my name is Lindsey, i was in the car when this gentleman came into our lane and we had no room to stop and was struck head on. i was unconscious and when i came to i got out of the car and immediately went to his aid cleared his airway and gave him comfort. for those you who want to make opinions on weather we was speeding well if 45 mile per hour is speeding then i don't know what is?! all i know is im still and will be worried about this man i don't care what his status is i care if he is ok. has anyone made a big fuss weather i was ok? I'm in extreame pain... Or the driver my friend Robert is he ok... no! so stop judging and start praying there are more than one person to this accident Ive tried to find out his condition but im not family so they wont release any info. this was a freak accident wrong place wrong prayers are with him and his family ....thank you!

hedshrinker 5 years, 1 month ago

LJW moderator: can you please close comments on this story; as usual, people don't seem to have the decency to refrain from making snarky comments and promoting their prejudices and agendas on a story of simple human accident. hope ALL involved tend to their own healing.

hedshrinker 5 years, 1 month ago

I find it "inappropriate" to make snarky, fault-finding comments when people's lives hang in the balance, or worse. I don't get people who come on this board over and over when there's been an accident, even a fatality and start pontificating about somebody being at fault, being reckless, etc...I just think it's in incredibly bad taste. I've known several people who died in this community, a few at their own hand, others in accidents and people who did not know the individual or the circumstances came on here and made all kinds of stupid, insensitive comments. It's really just unbelievable what people feel free to let loose with on the internet....I am a person of strong opinions, but try to engage with others with civility, and in some cases not at all, as in "Don't speak ill of the dead."

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