Reno County man dies in accident on flood damaged road

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RENO COUNTY, Kan. (KAKE) -

The Reno County Sheriff's Office is calling for continued caution among drivers as roads that have been under flood waters for weeks are slowly surfacing.  Saturday they say Brian Sollers lost his life when his ATV hit a washout on a rural county road.

Some of  Sollers' friends and family visited the site of the accident Sunday afternoon.  They didn't want to speak on camera, but want the world to know he was a good man with a big heart, ready to help anyone in need.  A member of the National Guard, they say he'd served several tours of duty in the MidEast.

They say when he lost his life Saturday he was on his way to visit friends.

"It's been pretty devastating all over the place," Austin Smith said about the flooding across Reno County.

The county has been one of the worst hit in this spring's flooding, dozens of roads closed even after the floodwaters started to recede this last week.

"At this point people are wanting to get out and check the roads, see what damage there is, and not realizing that some of the damage can be dangerous," said Det. Sgt. Levi Blumanhourst with the Reno County Sheriff's Office.

Among those roads, a low point of the 800 block of East 108th Street on Saturday.  That's when the sheriff's office says passersby saw an ATV sitting in the road.  The passersby found a man face down in the water underneath the ATV.  Officers say they pulled the man out and performed CPR, but weren't able to save him.  That man was Brian Sollers.

Investigators say they don't know how he ended up on 108th, but they have no doubt the road damage played a part in his death.

"Once the water goes down you get the sense that the road's fine and there's no reason for it to be closed anymore, when, just like in this case, there was damage done to the road," Det. Blumanhourst explained.

Another problem the Sheriff's Office says it's been having throughout all of this flooding is people stealing the road closed signs.

"So, a road is marked as Road Closed or High Water and the township would call us a couple days after they'd put a sign up and say that the sign was stolen," Det. Blumanhourst said.  "And that causes all kinds of potential danger to the traveling public."

Investigators say they don't know if that happened in Sollers' case, but at the time of the accident there was no Road Closed sign on the east end of the road and they found Sollers ATV facing west, meaning he may have never had any warning about the washout.

The Sheriff's Office is not only warning residents to pay attention to the Road Closed signs but to be extra careful and take it slow on all roads prone to flooding until they know what condition the road may be in.

Austin Smith, who lives in the area, says it's been frustrating having to go the long way around with all the flooded roads.  But seeing damage like that on 108th reminds him how important it is to be extra careful.

"I mean, you drive out there, you never know," he said.  "You never know.  Especially with these dirt roads."