by JIM MISUNAS
Eagle Med airlifted three injured people transported to Great Bend Regional Hospital to Wichita following a two-vehicle accident south of Great Bend on U.S. 281.
Barton County Sheriff Brian J. Bellendir reports three people sustained critical injuries from the head-on collision at 10:17 a.m. Thursday on U.S. 281 mile marker 102.5, two miles south of Great Bend near Great Bend Farm Equipment.
Bellendir said three adult passengers all required extraction from their vehicles by Great Bend firefighters and were transported by emergency personnel to Great Bend Regional Hospital.
“All three of the adult front-seat passengers in both vehicles had to be extracted with the jaws of life,” said Bellendir. “It took 30 minutes to get them all out. All three were pinned in their vehicles after the collision,”
Following the accident, emergency personnel began requesting air transportation to Wichita’s Via Christi St. Francis and Wesley Medical Center. The Eagle Med helicopters landed at Great Bend Regional Airport.
The deputies’ investigation indicates a southbound 2005 Ford Explorer XLT, operated by St. John’s Lafe Kern, 26, crossed left of center nearly striking a northbound vehicle.
However, the first vehicle was able to avoid a possible collision.
A second northbound vehicle, a 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe operated by Pratt’s Heather (Polley) Cash, 29, was struck head-on on U.S. 281, according to the accident report. Cash is a Pratt High School graduate.
There were three passengers in the Cash vehicle — Pratt’s Candace Lampe, 52, and Heather Cash’s two children, a 3-year-old and an 8-month old infant. Bellendir said both children were properly restrained in child restraint devices and received minor injuries. Kern was alone in the vehicle at the time of the collision.
The three adults were subsequently flown to Wichita area hospitals. US 281 highway was closed for approximately 90 minutes while emergency crews worked the scene. Kern was in critical condition in surgical intensive care at Via Christi St. Francis. Cash and Lampe are being treated at Wesley Medical Center.
“It is currently unknown why the Kern vehicle crossed left of center,” Bellendir said. “The accident is still under investigation by the sheriff’s office.”
Great Bend sheriff’s deputies were assisted at the scene by the Kansas Highway Patrol, Great Bend firefighters and EMS personnel and employees from the Kansas Department of Transportation.