Double fatality accident occurs near Belle Plaine on Kansas Turnpike

by Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — A double fatality occurred at milepost 27.4 near Belle Plaine on the Kansas Turnpike Saturday evening at 3:12 p.m.

A driver of a 2012 International semi-truck, which was hauling fuel, hit a concrete guard rail on a bridge while traveling northbound. The truck then skidded into the ditch, went through a fence, rolled and came to a stop, according to Kansas Turnpike Authority dispatch. 

The tanker then caught fire, and exploded at 3:19 p.m. seven minutes later, according to dispatch.

The two victims, who are from Oklahoma, have not been publicly identified by KTA authorities until next of kin has been contacted.

Traffic was delayed on the turnpike for a short period of time as law enforcement worried that there could be an explosion before it occurred. No other people were hurt during the explosion.

It is unknown why the driver hit the bridge guard rail, according to dispatch.

According to a Wichita Eagle article, at least one motorist started toward the truck to help, but it was too late. The truck was engulfed in flames about a mile north of the Belle Plaine service area, said Kansas Highway Patrol Master Trooper Joel Powers told the Eagle.

The truck caught fire about 75 yards east of the northbound lanes. Realizing that the truck and tanker could explode, another trooper held back northbound traffic for a time. The truck exploded about 10 minutes after he arrived, Powers said at the scene.

“When it blew, it was a pretty good shock wave,” he said. The force sent large sheets of metal back toward the highway.

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