Patrol works 29 crashes, 1 fatal, as blizzard hits Kansas

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HAYS, Kan. (AP) -

Dozens of drivers crashed or needed help after heavy snow and strong winds created treacherous whiteout conditions in western Kansas.

Kansas Highway Patrol Lt. Stephen Larow says the agency responded to 29 crashes Thursday, including one that killed 16-old Jackson Buerge, of Overland Park, and three others with injuries. The patrol says Jackson was riding in a sport utility vehicle that a tractor-trailer rear-ended on a snow-covered stretch of Interstate 70 east of Colby.

The Kansas Department of Transportation temporarily closed the interstate and several other highways as parts of the state received 8 to 12 inches of snow. By noon Friday, only one remained closed, a short stretch of Kansas 51.

Larow says the patrol also checked on 43 abandoned vehicles and assisted 239 drivers.

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Highways are reopening in western Kansas after a blizzard coated the area with snow and caused numerous wrecks.

The Kansas Department of Transportation says only small stretches of Kansas 27 and 51 in the extreme southwest corner of the state remained closed Friday.

Officials have been gradually reopening roads, including a stretch of Interstate 70 that temporarily closed Thursday when the storm hit, dumping from 8 inches to 12 inches (20 to 30 centimeters) in some areas.

Minutes after announcing the interstate's closure, the Kansas State Highway Patrol received a report a report that a tractor-trailer had rear-ended a sport utility vehicle on the snow-covered roadway east of Colby. The patrol says 16-year-old Jackson Buerge, of Overland Park, was riding in the SUV and died at a hospital.

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