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Two drivers injured in crash at construction area
281 crash Grand Prix
This 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix was rear-ended late Thursday night at the construction area north of Great Bend on U.S. 281. The drivers of two vehicles were later flown to Wichita hospitals with possibly serious injuries. - photos courtesy of Barton County Sheriff's Office.

Two cars collided around 11:20 p.m. Thursday in the construction area north of Great Bend on U.S. 281. Both drivers were transported to the University of Kansas Health System Great Bend campus and then flown to Wichita area hospitals in serious condition, Sheriff Brian Bellendir reports.

The crash occurred near milepost 106 in a construction area where a bridge is being built.

The initial investigation indicates a 1986 Ford Mustang convertible operated by Jason Bitter, age 33 of Great Bend was northbound on U.S. 281 at a high rate of speed,” Bellendir stated in a news release. “911 had received a reckless driving complaint on the same vehicle a few minutes prior to the reported collision.”

The second vehicle, a 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix operated by Carlos Orozco, age 22 of Leoti, had been stopped at the construction site when the light turned green and began to proceed north. Investigation indicates the Bitter vehicle struck the rear of the Orozco vehicle at a high rate of speed. The impact caused Orozco’s Pontiac to strike the crash barriers and spin into the east ditch. The Bitter vehicle also came to rest in the east ditch.

“The Sheriff’s office believes alcohol was a contributing factor in the accident. We will pursue criminal charges upon further investigation and toxicology reports,” Bellendir said.

The Sheriff’s office was assisted at the scene by the Great Bend Fire Department and EMS service as well as the Kansas Highway Patrol.

281 crash Mustang
This 1986 Ford Mustang was involved in the two-vehicle crash at 11:20 p.m. Thursday.