Archive for Thursday, May 5, 2011

Kansas Highway Patrol says drug use, inattention contributing factors in fatal April 16 accident on K-10

A two-vehicle accident east of Eudora around 3:30 p.m. Saturday claimed the life of two people, and three others were injured.

A two-vehicle accident east of Eudora around 3:30 p.m. Saturday claimed the life of two people, and three others were injured.

May 5, 2011

A Kansas Highway Patrol trooper said Tuesday that drug use and driver inattention would be listed as contributing factors as to why a 24-year-old Eudora man crossed a median in a deadly April 16 accident on Kansas Highway 10.

Troopers have said an eastbound car driven by Ryan Pittman crossed over into the westbound lanes and struck a minivan near the Church Street interchange. Cainan Shutt, a 5-year-old Eudora preschooler who was riding inside the van, also died, and his 23-month-old sister Courtlynn Shutt and their grandparents were injured.

“We’re not going to know a specific cause of why he went into the median. We have contributing circumstances of why the accident happened but no cause,” Trooper Casey Simoneau said Tuesday.

Coroner’s officials said two weeks ago a preliminary autopsy report indicated Pittman had marijuana, benzodiazepine, which is a depressant used in drugs to treat insomnia and anxiety, and methadone in his system.

But the full autopsy, including a detailed toxicology report, is not yet complete, and Simoneau said if new information comes out of the final autopsy report it could change details in his accident report.

Simoneau also said the accident report would note Pittman’s license was suspended. According to state records, Pittman’s license was suspended Jan. 25 for failing to maintain continuous liability insurance or file evidence of insurance.

Simoneau said Tuesday that troopers had been operating LIDAR check lanes, which incorporates a laser to check for speeding vehicles. That was also happening on Monday and Tuesday. Technical Trooper Don Hughes said the highway patrol has used the tactic periodically on K-10.

“It’s a priority road for us. It has a high volume of traffic. The guys are consistent with working it,” Hughes said.

The aftermath of the April 16 crash has spurred a call — including from Cainan Shutt’s parents and about 4,000 people on Facebook — for the Kansas Department of Transportation to re-examine whether it should install a cable barrier in the median along K-10 from Lawrence to Interstate 435 in Johnson County to stop cross-median crashes. After a 2008 study, KDOT officials said K-10 did not qualify for a cable barrier.

But Gov. Sam Brownback last month directed KDOT officials to reopen the study and work with local officials after receiving a letter from Eudora Mayor Scott Hopson. KDOT officials are scheduled to meet with city officials, including those from Lawrence and Eudora, on May 12.

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