A Great Bend man has been charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter, in connection with an accident that claimed the lives of a husband and wife riding a motorcycle through Great Bend last August.
William Howard Baker made his first appearance Tuesday in Barton County District Court. His attorney, Charles O’Hara of Wichita, waived the reading of the charges, which also included four alleged traffic infractions.
Barton County Attorney Douglas Matthews said no preliminary hearing was scheduled. District Judge Ron Svaty approved a $50,000 own-recognizance bond for Baker.
Reno County Jail Deputy Shawn Schellenger, 27, and his wife Danielle, 33, were riding with family members when the accident that would claim their lives occurred, the morning of Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014. They were on a westbound motorcycle in the 5600 block of 10th St.; at the same time, Baker, then 59, was driving toward them in a pickup pulling a trailer that was carrying a mower. The trailer became detached and crossed the center line, clipping the motorcycle.
The Schellengers’ two children, ages 5 and 7 years old, were on other motorcycles, one driven by their grandfather, 55-year-old Jeffrey Schellenger of Rose Hill, and the other by another Reno County deputy. The children were not injured.
After the trailer struck the motorcycle ridden by Shawn and Danielle Schellenger, who were wearing helmets, they were flown to Via Christi Medical Center’s St. Francis Hospital in Wichita. Danielle died that afternoon and Shawn died the following day.
Jeffrey Schellenger was riding next to them and laid his motorcycle down to miss the accident’s debris. He was taken to Great Bend Regional Hospital where he was treated and released.
Reno County Sheriff Randy Henderson reported that Shawn Schellenger was about to celebrate his one-year anniversary with the department after moving from Butler County. Both of the Schellengers also served their country in Iraq, according to a family member.
No arrests were made at the time of the accident. County Attorney Matthews said several items of debris were collected at the scene and sent to a lab for testing. A search warrant was later executed at Baker’s property to collect the trailer hitch.