UPDATE: Identity of man killed in ATV accident released

By: Jason Tarr - Email
By: Jason Tarr - Email
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Derby, Kan. -- Investigators have released the name of a man killed in an ATV accident on Sunday.

It happened shortly after 2:30 p.m. yesterday near 63rd Street South and Grove along the Wichita-Valley Center Floodway known as the Big Ditch. The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office says three friends were unlawfully riding ATVs in the area at the time of the accident.

Deputies say two of the drivers did not see a drainage ditch that feeds into the Big Ditch. Witnesses say they went "head on" into the ditch, lost control and were thrown off of their vehicles.

One of the victims, 25-year-old Philipp L. "Doobie" Wellemeyer of Derby, was pronounced dead at the scene.

A second victim in his early twenties was taken to Via Christi-St. Francis with what was determined to be minor injuries. The third driver was not injured.

Deputies say all the drivers were wearing helmets and at least one driver had on additional safety gear.

Derby's Ean Thomas was in the area visiting his grandparents when the accident happened.

"I got waved down by a guy in a hoodie and thought he just needed help with a car or something," Thomas said.

Instead, the man told Thomas about the crash.

"I eventually walked all the way down there to see what was going on," Thomas said. "He was just laying there, like he hit the side of the ditch. It wasn't pretty."

Thomas says many people ride their ATVs in the area even though there are no trespassing signs and it is illegal to operate any kind of motor vehicle near the Big Ditch.

The sheriff's office warns that violators face a fine of $520, plus court costs.

"There are a lot of areas that drop off if you are not familiar with the terrain. There is debris out here also," Sgt. Nathan Gibbs said.

He says deputies frequently get calls of people riding illegally in the area.

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