Eudora News and Information – www.eudorareporter.com
Note: Andy Hyland, Jonathan Kealing and Joe Preiner from the Lawrence Journal World contributed to this report.
An accident on K-10 highway just west of the Church Street exit caused the highway to be shut down in both directions for over six hours Thursday.
The accident occurred around 4:00PM Thursday afternoon when a cement mixer blew a tire, causing the driver, identified as 44-year-old Tonganoxie resident Richard Vandruff, to lose control of the vehicle, according to a report from the KHP. Vandruff swerved onto the north shoulder of westbound K-10 before veering back across the lanes onto the median, where the vehicle then rolled before coming to rest on its side. Vandruff was trapped in his truck for more than 30 minutes while Lawrence Douglas County Fire Medical tried to rescue him. He was taken by helicopter to KU Medical center for treatment.
Two other injury accidents had occurred in Douglas County at approximately the same time, complicating the rush hour commute. The Kansas Turnpike was shut down near the Lecompton exit because of an eastbound accident and there was an accident on US 24/40 at mile marker 397.
Traffic from K-10 was rerouted through Eudora causing long backups at all major intersections in the city. During rush hour, drivers sat for periods as long as thirty minutes on County Road 442 heading east into Eudora while crews and law enforcement officials completed an accident reconstruction investigation and cleanup of the cement mixer. An equally long backup westbound was caused by traffic being forced to exit at Church Street.
“It was the perfect storm,” Eudora Police Chief Grady Walker stated. “With the three accidents all working in Douglas County at the same time, everything converged on Eudora. I’ve never seen anything like that before.”
Walker added that he was happy that there were no secondary accidents with the increased volume of traffic through town.
“You can do all the planning in the world and then you have an event like this that no one could predict and you find out if your personnel and plans are ready,” Walker said. “Gratefully, we were ready.”
Crews from Kansas Highway patrol, Eudora and Lawrence, including a Hazmat team, worked the accident scene late into the night to remove the cement truck and handle fuel and cement spilled onto the highway.