Authorities identify man killed in head-on crash south of Lawrence

A head-on collision Thursday night south of Lawrence killed a man and injured a woman, and ignited a grass fire that burned approximately 200 acres, authorities say.

Eric Hutchinson, 42, of Lawrence, died in the crash, which happened shortly after 10 p.m. in the 1300 block of North 1000 Road, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Kristen Channel said Friday. The location is just east of Wells Overlook Park.

Hutchinson had been driving a Mazda 3 westbound on the county road when his vehicle collided head-on with a GMC Jimmy SUV, Channel said. The driver of the SUV, 48-year-old Kristina Hurt, of Eudora, suffered serious injuries and was flown to the University of Kansas hospital in Kansas City, Kan., Channel said.

There were no passengers in either vehicle, Channel said.

The crash remained under investigation late Friday afternoon, Channel said. Additional details from the sheriff’s office were not available, including what caused the crash, which vehicle crossed the center line or whether the drivers were wearing seat belts.

The crash caused the Mazda to catch fire, which then ignited a grass fire that spread quickly due to wind gusts of around 25 mph throughout the incident, Wakarusa Township Fire Chief Mike Baxter said.

Baxter said it took about two hours to get the fire under control. The fire threatened a number of structures, and several homes were evacuated, but none were damaged, Baxter said.

No injuries to people or livestock were reported, he said.

Multiple fire departments helped Wakarusa Township fight the fire and set up around homes to protect them from the blaze, Baxter said.

North 1000 Road was closed for about five hours because of the incident, Channel said.