During his years working in public safety, Leavenworth County Emergency Management Director Chuck Magaha said Tuesday's multi-vehicle fatality crash on the Kansas Turnpike was one of the worst he has ever seen.
Updated: 5:03 p.m. 7-12-17
During his years working in public safety, Leavenworth County Emergency Management Director Chuck Magaha said Tuesday’s multi-vehicle fatality crash on the Kansas Turnpike was one of the worst he has ever seen.
Five people were killed in the crash, which was reported at 2:23 p.m. Tuesday on Interstate 70 in southern Leavenworth County. And two semitrailers caught on fire as a result of the crash.
“It was a horrific accident,” Magaha said.
He said the crash occurred in the westbound lanes of the interstate near 174th Street.
A westbound 2015 Freightliner truck, which was hauling for Indian Creek Express, struck a 2015 GMC Terrain. The truck then struck a 2012 Buick Lacrosse. The Buick was pushed into a guardrail before coming to rest in a ditch, according to a report from the Kansas Turnpike Authority.
The Indian Creek Express truck then struck a 2005 Ford Taurus. The Taurus was pushed under the back of a trailer of a 2016 Freightliner truck, which was hauling for U.S. Xpress, according to the KTA.
The Indian Creek Express truck then struck the trailer of the other truck. The U.S. Xpress truck then struck the rear of a 2011 Chevrolet Avalanche.
The driver of the Indian Creek Express truck apparently applied his brakes after cresting a slight hill, but he was not able to stop the vehicle in time to avoid a collision with slowing traffic, according to the KTA.
There reportedly was road construction up ahead.
The driver of the Indian Creek Express Truck has been identified as Kenny B. Ford, 56, Houston. He suffered what was described by the KTA as a possible injury.
The GMC’s driver, Teresa J. Butler, 61, Urbana, Illinois, and her passenger, a 63-year-old woman, were among those killed in the crash. The name of the passenger had not yet been released Wednesday by the KTA.
The Buick’s driver, Sheldon H. Cohen, 83, and his passenger, Virginia Cohen, 79, also were killed. The couple was from Topeka.
The Taurus driver, Ricardo Mireless, 38, Topeka, also died, according to the KTA.
The driver of the U.S. Xpress truck was not injured. He has been identified as Carleton A. McMahan, 53, Ashville, North Carolina.
The driver of the Chevrolet Avalanche also was not injured. He has been identified as Scott M. Shambaugh, 53, Ashland City, Tennessee.
Magaha said smoke from the burning semitrailers could be seen in the city of Leavenworth.
He said the trucks had been hauling produce and appliances.
He estimated that about 35 firefighters from multiple departments in Leavenworth County and neighboring counties responded to the scene.
Magaha said firefighters had the fire under control by around 3 p.m. But the fire continued to burn until after 11 p.m.
Eastbound and westbound lanes were closed on the interstate because of the crash and fire.
Magaha said a fire gate that is ordinarily used only by emergency responders was utilized so motorists who were backed up on I-70 could get off the interstate.
County Attorney Todd Thompson said Wednesday that the accident remains under investigation. And it could take between four and six months to complete the investigation.
“It’s going to take some time to sort through this,” he said.