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Once thought to be a passenger, driver in fatal wreck charged

The initial investigation into a May 15 fatal wreck indicated the deceased, Jacob D. Kinney of Great Bend, was driving. However, Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir said authorities now believe that is not the case.
Kinney, 20, was pronounced dead at the scene on SE 70 Road at the Barton/Stafford County line. A passenger in the pickup, 20-year-old Dakota Wade James of Hutchinson, was reportedly injured but refused treatment at the scene.
It now appears James was actually the driver.
The Sheriff’s Office obtained search warrants and conducted further forensic examination of the truck as well as interviews. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation assisted with collection of evidence and contacting of witnesses.
The investigation indicates Kinney was not driving.
The information from the investigation was sent to the Barton County Attorney and an arrest warrant was obtained for James. With the assistance of the Cowley County Sheriff’s Office, James was arrested Monday afternoon at Udall.
The arrest warrant contained eight counts including involuntary manslaughter, DUI, giving false information to law enforcement officers as well as various other traffic charges.
It is expected James will be transported back to Barton County today.
The BCSO responded to the accident at 6:15 a.m. on that Sunday. Upon arrival, deputies located a black 1998 Dodge Ram 2500 resting on its top.
Investigation indicates the truck was northbound approaching the county line when it failed to negotiate a curve in the roadway. The vehicle went into a skid, leaving the roadway, rolling approximately 3.5 times. Kinney was ejected from the vehicle.
The passenger stated he was trapped in the vehicle. He was able to free himself and attempted to find help. Unable to locate assistance, he returned to the accident scene. The accident was discovered by a passing motorist at about 6:15 a.m. James stated he believes the accident occurred at about 2:30 a.m.
The Barton County Sheriff’s Office was assisted at the scene by the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office, the Barton County Coroner’s Office and Ellinwood Emergency Medical Service. Sheriff Brian Bellendir noted, “The accident is currently under investigation. It is believed alcohol may have been a contributing factor.”