Three Accidents Involving Young People Rock Small Town of Douglass

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Each time she gets the call, Jenni O'Crowley's mind races.

"Your heart stops because you're like, 'Is that my brother? Is that my brother-in-law? Is that my cousin?" O'Crowley of Douglass said.

A recent eight-day period with three accidents, two of them fatal, involving Douglass young people affirmed those concerns are real.

"The first child was my brother-in-law's girlfriend's brother," O'Crowley said.

For O'Crowley and others living in Douglass, when tragedy strikes, it's not just possible they know the victim, it's more than likely.

"It's the whole six degrees of separation thing," O'Crowley said.

That makes these kinds of tragedies even harder for this kind of community.

"It impacts more than just their immediate family, it leaves a hole in the entire community," Douglass City Administrator KaLyn Nethercot said.

That hole is gaping after those three accidents in such a short period of time. In two of the accidents, a young person from Douglass was killed.

The first fatal crash was June 29 near 170th and Meadowlark Road in Butler County. Victor Oliver, 16, died in the accident. Oliver was preparing for his senior year at Douglass High School.

The second fatal crash was July 7 in Wichita at the 4500 block of West Irving. Galen Haaga, 23, died after police say he slammed into the back of a semi truck.

The Butler County Sheriff's Office says it can not provide further information about the crash at this time.

A third accident on July 2, left Terry Kaylor severely injured. He is receiving treatment at the Madonna Rehabilitation Center in Lincoln, Neb.

"It just feels like brick layering," Nethercot said. "It's just the weight of another brick, another passing, another terrible tragedy."

But just as everyone in this community feels that weight together, they also grieve and rally together.

"You will see the memorials established, you'll see the scholarship funds established. So, even though there's a hole in the community that can't be filled, they'll not be forgotten," Nethercot said.

O'Crowley is helping to organize a fundraiser. The BBQ and silent auction will focus on helping the young man still alive, Terry Kaylor. But O'Crowley says some money will also go to the Oliver and Hagga families.

O'Crowley, a mother of one, knew each of this week's victims and another from last year.

"We've been through this before unfortunately and it's our way of getting together and saying we're here for each other and we are going to help this family out when they need it the most," O'Crowley said.

O'Crowley says fundraiser organizers are looking for donations for the silent auction for bidding items. They are also asking for food donations for the BBQ portion of the event.

In addition, O'Crowley says they are trying to bring in gas cards and/or food cards to help the Kaylor family as they travel between Douglass and the Madonna Rehabilitation Center in Lincoln, Neb.

The following funds have also been set up. You can make monetary donations to these funds by using the addresses below:

Terry Kaylor Fund
c/o Corner Bank
P.O. Box 338
Douglass, KS 67039

Galen Haaga
Douglass High School Athletics Fund
910 East First Street
Douglass, KS 67039

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