Police Chase On I-70 Turns Deadly In Geary County

Gary Nelson
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GEARY COUNTY, Kan. (WIBW) -- A pursuit by law enforcement on Interstate 70 turned dangerous and fatal when the suspect's car veered into oncoming traffic, causing an SUV in its path to swerve out of the way, killing one man and injuring two other people.

According to Kansas Highway Patrol reports, a 2013 Chrysler 200 driven by Gary Nelson, 22, of Junction City, was being chased by law enforcement on I-70 Wednesday night around 10:30 and Nelson was going the wrong way, driving into oncoming traffic.

Troopers indicate that he was westbound in the eastbound lanes near mile marker 297 in Junction City trying to evade police.

Steven Green, 53, of Manhattan, tried an evasive move in his 2002 GMC Envoy to avoid a collision with Nelson and the SUV ended up leaving the roadway, rolling over multiple times and coming to a stop on its top.

Green and a female passenger, 51-year-old Evon Obannon of Manhattan, were injured and taken to Geary Community Hospital.

Another passenger, 53-year-old Jake Black of Manhattan, was taken to the hospital and succumbed to his injuries. He was pronounced dead at 11:30 PM.

Gary Nelson was not injured. The crash remains under investigation. Officials with the Kansas Highway Patrol could not comment Thursday about the police pursuit with Nelson and how it started.

Nelson was arrested for Vehicular Homicide, Fleeing and Eluding Law Enforcement, Reckless Driving and Speeding. He kept going after the accident and was eventually taken into custody in Dickinson County. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance Friday morning in Geary County.

When asked about reports that Nelson was suicidal when he fled from troopers and crossed over I-70 and started going the wrong way, Geary County Attorney Steve Opat said: "That's what's been related to me. I can't confirm it."

"Reports are being generated. They will be forwarded to my office for my review and that of my traffic prosecutor. We'll determine what the appropriate charges are. We'll conduct a first appearance tomorrow but the subject remains in custody," Opat told WIBW.

Fort Riley's 1st Infantry Division Public Affairs Office confirmed that Nelson is a specialist and works as a 92F Petroleum Supply Specialist with 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. He joined the army in November 2008.

The Kansas Highway Patrol released the following information on the crash on their website Thursday:

On Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013, at approximately 10:30 p.m., a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper observed a vehicle traveling the wrong direction on I-70 near Grandview Plaza (the Junction City area).

The trooper attempted to stop the vehicle, and a chase ensued.

During the pursuit, a GMC utility vehicle with three occupants steered away from the fleeing vehicle, resulting in them entering the south ditch. The GMC rolled and came to rest on an access road south of I-70. The Dickinson County Sheriff’s Department assisted the Patrol by shutting down I-70 eastbound at the Abilene exit. As the fleeing vehicle approached the area near the Chapman exit, it slowed, and the driver drove into the median and stopped. The driver surrendered to law enforcement and was taken into custody without incident.

Troopers returned to the crash scene of the GMC that had been forced from the roadway, to assist emergency medical personnel who had been dispatched to the scene. All occupants were transported to Geary Community Hospital to be treated for their injuries. One occupant sustained fatal injuries as a result of the crash. The KHP Critical Highway Accident Response Team (C.H.A.R.T.) was activated to investigate the crash.

The fleeing driver, Gary F. Nelson, 22 years of age, stationed in Fort Riley, KS, was transported to the Geary County Jail, pending charges from the Geary County Attorney’s Office.