RILEY COUNTY, Kan. (WIBW) -- The Kansas Highway Patrol is investigating an accident on K-18 that claimed the lives of two people and left four Kansas State University students injured.
The head-on collision happened around 3 AM Monday, May 14 on K-18 near Scenic Drive in Riley County, two miles west of the city limits of Manhattan.
Officials shut down Fort Riley Boulevard - also known as K-18 - in both directions in the 4700 block, which is from Seth Child Road to Scenic Drive. Due to road construction on the highway, traffic has been reduced to two lanes with opposing traffic traveling directly next to each other.
Lieutenant Gregory Harkrader with the Kansas Highway Patrol says the accident involved two cars- a 2003 Chevy Silverado which was occupied by four people and a 2001 Buick LeSabre which was occupied by a man and woman.
"About 2:50 this morning, we had a Chevy Silverado truck going the wrong way eastbound in the westbound lanes of K-18 and it ended up striking a Buick passenger car that was going west on K-18. Right now, we believe that alcohol was a factor in the crash,' Harkrader told 13 News at the scene.
"There were four people in the truck and they were subsequently transported to Mercy Regional Health Center in Manhattan. Two passengers from the truck were then transported to Stormont-Vail Hospital in Topeka for serious injuries that were sustained. And then unfortunately, the two occupants of the other vehicle- the Buick going west that got struck- died at the scene," Harkrader explained.
According to Kansas Highway Patrol officials, the four people in the Chevy truck are students at Kansas State University. The Kansas Highway Patrol's Crash Log online identified the driver of the truck as 23-year-old Miles Theurer from Wellington, Kansas. Theurer was taken to Mercy Regional Health Center and the website lists him as "disabled." Joseph Iliff, 25, from Manhattan, a passenger, was taken to Stormont-Vail Hospital in Topeka. He's also listed as "disabled." Another passenger, 23-year-old Lance Schmidt from Monroe, Nebraska, was taken to Stormont-Vail Hospital and is listed as "disabled.' The fourth occupant, 25-year-old Andrew Mason from Monument, Colorado, was injured and taken to Mercy Regional Health Center in Manhattan.
The two people that were killed in the Buick have been identified as 31-year-old Elizabeth Young from White City, Kansas, who was the driver, and 32-year-old Michael Stanley from Ogden. Their names were released late Monday on the crash log site after troopers notified their loved ones.
"We’re doing reconstruction on this accident scene as part of our investigation since there were multiple fatalities with the possibility of having another one and then also the fact that it happened in a construction zone where we’ve had a lot of wrecks that we’ve worked as well, it’s something that we would like to do just make sure that it’s documented correctly and to make sure the accident is worked correctly," Lieutenant Harkrader added.
He said that troopers were also trying to figure out why Young, the driver of the Buick, did not appear to veer or stop when she realized that the truck was coming straight at her car.
Officials announced at 9:30 AM Monday that K-18 reopened in both directions after a 6.5 hour shutdown.
When asked if any charges are being filed against 23-year-old Miles Theurer, the driver of the truck, Harkrader said it would take several weeks to compile autopsy and toxicology reports and to complete the investigation and reconstruction of the crash. Once troopers have all of the necessary findings, Harkrader said they will meet with the Riley County Attorney to discuss possible prosecution.