Ten vehicles were involved in multiple crashes in western Barton County Monday afternoon due to low visibility from blowing dust shortly after 4 p.m. Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir said an additional four vehicles were in the ditch to avoid crashing.
“I’ve never seen anything like this where the visibility was where you could not see past the hood of your car,” he said. Eight to 10 law enforcement officers 11 EMS/fire fighters and three farmers were all at the scene.
Law enforcement worked the wrecks from 4:08 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. before the highway was opened back up. Three ambulances, a fire truck and a command truck were also present.
One sheriff’s patrol vehicle was in the wreck. Officer Aaron C. Conaway had responded to the scene and was attempting to assist the injured. He was still in his vehicle when it was struck. Bellendir said Conaway was treated and released for minor injuries.
Bellendir said three farmers also assisted at the scene. They were contacted to turn the soil over and, “actually help stop the blowing dust.” He said, the deeper soil held more moisture and increased visibility.
Bellendir said that he has had farmers assist once before in an emergency situation.
One fatality resulted and multiple injuries were reported. This information was provided from the Kansas Highway Patrol Crash log.
At 4:05 p.m. Monday, Laverne R. Wilcox of Larned, 75, and Ronald D. Vos, 57, of Lake Wilson, Minn. were westbound on U.S. Highway 56 seven miles southwest of Great Bend. Vos stopped in the westbound driving lane due to zero visibility from the blowing dust. Wilcox’s 2010 4-door Volkswagon struck the rear of Vos’ 2013 Dodge pickup.
Both were injured in the accident and transported to Great Bend Regional Hospital. Both were wearing seat belts.
At 4:19 p.m., Michael D. Donovan, 54, of Larned was stopped in the eastbound lane of U.S. Highway 56 seven miles west of Great Bend, straddling the fog line, the outside white line, due to visibility being reduced by blowing dirt and other accidents. Brandon H. Stein, 30, of Great Bend collided with the 2009 Peterbuilt semi.
Stein was fatally injured. He was driving a 2007 Cadillac Escalade. Donovan received possible injuries, according to the KHP Crash Log.
Six vehicles were also involved in a pileup a 4:27 p.m. seven miles southwest of Great Bend. Sheriff’s Officer Conaway, 29, of Great Bend, pulled off onto the shoulder with emergency lights on to warn vehicles of the low visibility.
A second vehicle, driven by Rodney D. Satterlee, 67, of Larned pulled off onto the shoulder behind Conaway due to the low visibility, driving a 1999 Lincoln.
Jeffrey A. Stuart, 32, of Great Bend slowed in the eastbound lane. Donna K. Galyardt, 49, of Kinsley struck Stuart in the eastbound lane and then came to a stop. She was driving a 2005 Dodge pickup.
James B. Kirby, 76, of Larned, driving a 2002 GMC pickup, struck Galyardt, then Galyardt struck Conaway. Howard M. Boys, 66, struck Kirby, and at some point in the collisions Galyardt also struck Satterlee. Boys was driving a 2009 Chevrolet.
Galyardt and Kirby were transported to Great Bend Regional Hospital.
Those that were transported to the hospital have been released.