UPDATE: Wednesday, March 20, 2013
An early morning pile up on the Kansas Turnpike kills one man and lands two men in jail. We're learning more about the man killed in that accident and what caused the crash.
Early on in the investigation, Kansas Highway Patrol believed a school bus being towed by another school bus became detached. Now they say the bus got a flat tire and the driver detached it himself. But they say the bottom line is that the driver left the bus in the roadway and that's what caused the pile up.
Kansas highway patrol says men out of Mexico bought four school buses in Columbia, Missouri and were driving them back to Mexico. Each of them were driving one bus and towing another.
"The connection on the buses wasn't up to what it should have been and the buses were not in that good of shape either,” Captain Joe Bott with the Kansas Highway Patrol said.
One of the buses being towed got a flat tire and Captain Bott says the driver stopped, disconnected the homemade hitch, and then turned around and drove back the wrong way against traffic to park his bus in front of the disabled one.
"I don't know if they could have got off or not, but it would have been so much better if they could have got off on the shoulder we wouldn't have had this accident,” Captain Bott said.
Captain Bott says the two buses sitting in the roadway created a snowball effect and three separate accidents. The worst was when a semi-truck tried to stop to avoid hitting the buses.
"Then a vehicle came along, tried to slow down, and got rear ended by the pick up, which knocked him into the semi,” Captain Bott said.
Inside the car that was pushed into the semi was 60 year old Donald Putman. He died shortly after the accident.
We spoke with his family who tells us Putman was a man with a big family: his wife, five brothers and sisters, three children, and 11 grandchildren. He worked at Beechcraft and was on his way home from work at the time of the crash. His daughter told us "he was an amazing person and he will be missed."\
Donations to the family can be dropped off at any area Meritrust Credit Union branch or sent to the following address:
Donald Putman Family
c/o Meritrust Credit Union
P.O. Box 789757
Wichita, KS 67278
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
One person is dead and a stretch of highway was closed for several hours after a crash that was caused by an improperly towed school bus.
It happened just after midnight in the southbound lanes of the Kansas Turnpike, near mile marker 46 in southeast Wichita.
According to the Kansas Highway Patrol, it began as a school bus was towing another school bus. Troopers say the buses were not properly attached, and the bus being towed broke free.
The driver of the other bus then stopped, turned around while still in the southbound lanes, and drove back to the other bus.
A semi and another car also heading southbound tried to avoid the buses. The driver of the semi was able to avoid the buses by braking and moving to the inside traffic lane. The car behind the semi slowed down as well, but was rear-ended by a third vehicle and pushed into the rear axle of the semi.
The driver of the car that hit the semi had to be extricated from his vehicle, and was later pronounced dead. He's been identified as 60-year-old Donald E. Putman of Wichita. No other injuries were reported.
Troopers say the drivers of the two school buses have been taken into custody. The driver, 45-year-old Alfonso Cano-Corral of Juarez, Mexico was booked for involuntary manslaughter, failure to secure load, driving the wrong way and other traffic charges. The other man, 57-year-old Ubaldo Corea-Madrid of El Paso, Texas was booked for no valid driver's license and unlawful equipment.
Investigators believe the two men had recently purchased the buses in an auction at another location and were taking them to Mexico.
The southbound lanes of the turnpike were closed for several hours while emergency crews worked to investigate the accident. Those lanes reopened around 6:30 a.m.
KAKE News will be tracking the story throughout the day. Check back for updates.