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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Police believe driver was distracted

  • Police think a woman who died Wednesday in an accident involving downed power lines simply had been distracted when her car crashed into a utility pole.
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  • Police think a woman who died Wednesday in an accident involving downed power lines simply had been distracted when her car crashed into a utility pole.
    Leavenworth Police Chief Pat Kitchens said investigators have determined Lachelle M. Kemp's car was traveling 26 or 27 miles per hour at the time of the collision, which occurred late Wednesday morning at Seventh and Olive streets. The speed limit in that area is 30 mph.
    Kitchens said it's likely the driver simply had become distracted when the car veered off the road and struck the utility pole. The crash broke the pole.
    Kemp, 26, Leavenworth, got out of the car and became entangled in a downed power line. Witnesses reported seeing arcing electricity and heard the sound of an explosion, according to Kitchens.
    Someone who was at the scene apparently removed the line from Kemp before emergency personnel arrived.
    Kemp was taken to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.
    Two children, a 3-year-old boy and an infant girl, also were in the car at the time of the accident. They were taken to the hospital to be checked out.
    Kitchens said Thursday that the children are OK.
    When people are involved in a car accident in which there are downed power lines, it's best if they remain inside the car until help arrives, Kitchens said.
    The chief said people can't tell whether power lines pose a threat simply by looking at them.
    "You can't make that determination, and we can't," he said.
    He acknowledged there may be situations in which a person has to get out of vehicle, such as in the case of a fire.
    If a person has to get out of a car, he or she should make every effort not to touch the downed lines, Kitchens said.
    Prior to Wednesday's accident, Kemp reportedly had been stabbed during an altercation outside of a Leavenworth convenience store. The incident occurred June 18. Kemp was pregnant at the time.
    Following that incident, Richard T. Bennett was charged with with allegedly trying to murder Kemp and her then unborn child. Bennett is said to be the father of the baby.
    Kemp testified during an August preliminary hearing in the case. The case is scheduled to go to trial Nov. 4.
    "It's still an active case," County Attorney Todd Thompson said Thursday.
    However, the prosecutor said he can't discuss what might happen in the open case as it moves forward. A hearing in the case is scheduled for Oct. 31.
    Thompson said he was deeply saddened by the news of what happened Kemp.
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