The trailer that broke free from a pickup and hit a motorcycle on Great Bend’s 10th Street last August, causing the deaths of a Hutchinson couple, did not have an adequate safety chain, according to the criminal complaint filed this week in Barton County District Court. The complaint also alleges the load was not securely fastened.
William Baker, Great Bend, has been charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the Aug. 16, 2014, accident that killed Reno County Jail Deputy Shawn Schellenger, 27, and his wife Danielle, 33, a stay-at-home mom. After the warrant was issued Monday, Baker made his first court appearance on Tuesday. District Court Judge Ron Svaty authorized a $50,000 own-recognizance bond. A preliminary hearing should be scheduled within 10 days.
The complaint lists two counts of involuntary manslaughter, a class 5 felony which alleges Baker caused the deaths of the Schellengers through recklessness. The complaint goes on to list two unclassified misdemeanors: unlawfully towing a trailer without having an adequate safety chain between the towing vehicle and the trailer; and operating a vehicle without the load being securely fastened. Finally, it lists two traffic infractions: operating a vehicle or trailer not properly equipped with two or more stop lamps, and operating a vehicle or trailer not properly equipped with electric turn signal lamps.
It has taken over nine months for charges to be filed in the case. Barton County Attorney Douglas Matthews said Tuesday that the investigation wasn’t complete until his office received lab tests on evidence collected after the accident.
The witness list on the complaint includes the evidence custodian/forensic scientist of record for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Thirteen officers from the Great Bend Police Department and Kansas Highway Patrol are on a subpoena list.