Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Charges won’t be filed in fatal bike-truck collision at South Lawrence Trafficway

September 23, 2013


Charges will not be filed against the driver of a vehicle that struck and killed a 29-year-old Lawrence woman in July, a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper said.

Hayley M. Berrios was riding a bicycle east across the South Lawrence Trafficway near the stoplight at 27th Street at about 8 p.m. on July 21 when she was struck by a vehicle traveling north.

Berrios, who had been riding with her husband, Stephen, and several friends from a church group, was declared dead before a helicopter ambulance could arrive. A 1974 Chevrolet truck driven by Walter Spencer, 67, of Lawrence, struck her. Spencer was not injured in the accident and will not face charges of failing to stop, Kansas Highway Patrol trooper Dennis Shoemaker said.

The highway patrol and Douglas County Sheriff’s Department investigated the accident, Shoemaker said, and conducted in-person interviews of numerous witnesses. Shoemaker said that Berrios was riding beside a friend when they came upon the intersection. Her friend stopped as the traffic light turned red and called for Berrios to stop moments before the collision. Shoemaker said that several witnesses also driving the same direction as Spencer were able to verify that he had the green light.


Steve Jacob 4 years, 9 months ago

Very tragic accident. It's a terrible intersection that's going to get worse.

LawrenceTownie 4 years, 9 months ago

Please KDOT, rework this intersection before any more people lose their lives here. Clearly, this is a bypass for a major highway. The intersection is crossed by many parents, children, groups, walkers, etc. We need more done , like a bridge, even a foot bridge would help.

Ted Morehouse 4 years, 9 months ago

There is nothing wrong with this intersection. You can cross safely if you practice common sense. Its a no-brainer that If you run a red light, especially without looking both ways, you risk getting hit by a car. Changing anything at this intersection would be a knee-jerk waste of money.

Stuart Evans 4 years, 9 months ago

actually, this intersection sucks. I stop at the light every time I have to cross there, because not all of the cars do. In fact, at least half the time, someone is speeding up to blow through the yellow light. The rest of the time, you can count on someone rolling right through one or both of the stop signs along the frontage rd., which also happens to be a pedestrian crosswalk right of way.
We spend millions of dollars to make our roadways safer, then we go and put a crosswalk across a 65mph (as if...) highway. Let's try to do more to keep cars and people from crossing paths, especially at such an incredibly busy intersection.

Topple 4 years, 9 months ago

Yea, it's not smart to have a high-speed traffic-way intersected by a pedestrian crossing. People always have the tendency to speed up through yellow/red lights so they don't have to wait. Add that speeding to a vehicle already traveling 60mpg and pedestrians trying to cross. Not safe at all. The intersection always makes me a little nervous when I bike across it.

This is a terrible tragedy.

Doug Harvey 4 years, 9 months ago

A footbridge would not be unreasonable there -- it is a bit dicey on a bicycle and there's a fair amount of foot and bike traffic there. We need to get away from this mentality that there's no money for anything. There's PLENTY of money, it's just that only a few people have it. Build a freakin' bike-trail bridge over the highway -- it would be a reflection of a conscientious community. Preventable accidents should be prevented as much as possible.

mccabetherealtor 4 years, 9 months ago

It also does not make sense to plant a stoplight in the middle of a highway. There are many good solutions and I'd like to see the city commission take the lead in moving one forward asap. Please don't respond with questions of jurisdiction...this is a local issue and we need to fix it.

Chris Bohling 4 years, 9 months ago

A bridge would be best, but I think that even just having a two-way stop for the crossing road and letting the SLT have right of way at all times would be better, because then we wouldn't have people making assumptions about the stoplight. I think that drivers on the SLT aren't anticipating a stoplight and so they miss it, while at the same time folks on the cross street are lulled into a false sense of security by the stoplight. I think people would probably be a lot more alert if it wasn't there.

Chris Bohling 4 years, 9 months ago

Also, while a bike/pedestrian bridge might be feasible, I'm not sure if there's enough space for an automobile bridge at the same location due to the proximity of Wakarusa Drive and the apartment buildings on the Northeast side of the intersection.

Linda and Bill Houghton 4 years, 9 months ago

It would probably work if Kansas 10 was routed over 27th Street. There is plenty of room to get K-10 up and over but not to get 27th over from the northeast side. The merge lanes would be replaced by on an off ramps.

peartree 4 years, 9 months ago

A pedestrian bridge would need to go under the road, not over it.

Is this section going to remain part of K10 after the rest of the SLT is built? If so, traffic is going to increase a lot. There may need to be acceleration lanes built and the light taken out, leaving stop signs for those crossing or turning onto the highway.

Sherry Warren 4 years, 9 months ago

This intersection is aggravated by the poor planing of stop signs at 27th/Wakarusa about 40 feet to the Northeast. That intersection is not designed for cars to pass through either way, but only for cars to come south on Wauky and get on the SLT or go to the sports complex. If you are doing anything other than that, you are SOL.

The timing of the SLT stoplight is also pretty bad. It seems to encourage risk-taking by cutting off the crossing traffic too soon in order to keep the SLT traffic moving. Of course - one problem is our human lack of patience for such things.

blogme 4 years, 9 months ago

It's just plain stupid to have a stop light / pedestrian crossing on a 65mph highway. That alone begs people to run it / speed up for yellow lights. They need to make it 4 lane now with the bypass finally coming to fruition, and make that intersection an overpass to limit access to the bypass and not have a stop light on a highway.

Paul Wilson 4 years, 9 months ago

Typical. It is the way of our nation now though....blame everything and everyone else for the results or their situation.
"...Several witnesses also driving the same direction as Spencer were able to verify that he had the green light." Pretty simple. These types of intersections exist all across the country. For the most part...the only times tragedies like this occur are when someone isn't paying attention. When that happens...all your 'bubble wrap' preventative measures go out the window.

Ted Morehouse 4 years, 9 months ago

Finally a sane comment the death was due to human carelessness, not a failure in infrastructure. We can safeguard against human carelessness to some extent, for example installing a traffic light that says "stop", but if a bicyclist decides to run that light, they take full responsibility for their action. I think we have enough safeguards in place in Lawrence, and instead of pushing for larger and more expensive infrastructure we need to emphasize personal responsibility

BringBackMark 4 years, 9 months ago

I don't understand the headline. Was there some indication initially that charges would be filed? These tragic bicycle/vehicle accidents are becoming more numerous, mainly because bicycles out competing for the same space as something that weighs 20 or 30 times more.

Having got that off my chest (again), that light is completely ridiculous. Imagine once the SLT goes to 4 lane..... Does anyone know who the traffic (and I use this term lightly) engineer is in Lawrence that is in charge of signal location and timing?

jesse499 4 years, 8 months ago

AT first everybody had the truck driver convicted in the paper and every where else before the facts were found out amazing isn't it.

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