KHP releases names of 2 killed in Jefferson Co. crash

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GRANTVILLE, Kan. (WIBW)- A Clay Center man and Blue Rapids woman who were traveling to distribute Christmas gifts to inmates were killed Friday morning in a crash that shut down US-24 in Jefferson Co. for hours.

According to the Kansas Highway Patrol, Gerald Baxter, 66, and Carla Rene Polson, 65, died in the wreck, which happened shortly after 7 a.m. at the US-24 and Barton Road intersection, near Grantville.

Baxter was behind the wheel of the 1989 Ford Clubwagon taking Polson and four other members of the Clay Center Wesleyan Church to Lansing State Prison where, the church director says, they planned to hand out presents as part of their monthly ministry there.

Investigators say their van was heading north on Barton Road when a 2015 Nissan Altima, driven by Hannah Stark, of Grantville, failed to yield and struck the Clubwagon, which then rolled several times.

Four other people riding in the church van were also taken to Stormont Vail hospital for treatment. KHP identified them as:

  • Ruth Baxter, 64, of Clay Center;
  • Martha Hanson, 69, of Riley;
  • Barbara Jean Stewart, 61, of Clay Center; and
  • Robert Stewart, 61, of Clay Center.

Two children were riding in the Nissan driven by Stark, 31, and were not injured in the crash. KHP identified them 10-year-old Caydeace Stark and 9-year-old Alissa Stark.

The eastbound lanes of Highway 24 in Grantville were blocked all morning due to the wreck. The lanes were reopened around 1 p.m. Friday.