FORT SCOTT, Kan. -- The arrival of winter means roads can get icy and dangerous, so the Kansas Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agencies statewide will be working numerous traffic crashes related to weather.
With winter officially beginning Dec. 21, KHP officials are reminding motorists about safety when traveling in winter weather. KHP Technical Trooper Rick Wingate said the patrol typically sees an increase in traffic crashes at this time of year.
"After the first real storm of the season, people need to be aware of how fast roads can get slick and ice over," Wingate said. "They need to remember to slow down and be cautious. People forget they need to slow down and be more cautious on the roadways."
Wingate said a reminder that drivers should take extra precautions and be more aware of their surroundings on the roads when conditions are hazardous took place Dec. 20 when a three-vehicle accident on U.S. Highway 69 about three miles south of Fort Scott sent three people to the hospital.
KHP Master Trooper Brad Carpenter, 37, of Fort Scott, was working a minor non-injury crash on the east shoulder of U.S. 69 just before 8 a.m. that day when the 2011 Ford passenger car he was seated in was struck by a northbound 2009 International semi-truck driven by David Lapack, 67, of Parsons.
Carpenter's vehicle was parked behind a 2004 Chevrolet passenger car driven by Donna Marie Russell, 67, of McCune, when the semi lost control on a slick roadway and sideswiped the Ford and Chevrolet, according to the KHP crash log.
Gary Hald, 66, of Pittsburg, an occupant of the Ford, was injured and taken to Mercy Hospital.
Wingate said Carpenter had been working a previous non-injury accident that morning that occurred due to icy road conditions involving the Ford and Chevrolet and was making a report on the incident with Hald, who was involved in that accident, inside Carpenter's car.
Carpenter and Lapack were also taken to the hospital. Carpenter's injuries were not life threatening and he was treated at Mercy and has since been released. Russell is listed in the KHP report as having a "possible injury," but she was not taken to a hospital. The Ford and Chevrolet were both towed from the scene.
The conditions of others taken to Mercy Hospital following the accident were not available as of press time.
Wingate said slick roads were a "contributing factor" in the crash, which is being investigated.
Lapack was wearing a safety restraint, but the KHP report did not indicate whether others involved in the accident were wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash.
Several people posted comments about the accident on the KHP Facebook page, www.facebook.com/KansasHighwayPatrol, which also includes a post-crash photo showing extensive damage to the patrol car. Some discussion in the thread revolved around whether the truck driver was really to blame for the accident, as well as the topics of slowing down and moving over for emergency vehicles stopped on roadsides, and driving in poor conditions.
"All, thank you for your support for our trooper and his fellow officers," KHP responded in the thread. "When we posted this photo, it was not our intent to cast blame on the truckdriver, more it was an illustrated reminder of why it's important to take extra precautions during inclement weather, regardless of what vehicle you drive. For those driving trucks, we know you strive to keep our roads safe, and we appreciate the work you do."
Other comments indicated support for the trucker and KHP, and gratitude that the crash was not more serious.