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Young mother killed in Harvey County train collision identified

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, Oct. 8, 2012, at 2:54 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, at 3:09 p.m.

When rescuer workers arrived Saturday at the scene of a car-train accident near Walton in Harvey County, they found a young mother dead and her husband and brother injured.

They also saw a baby bottle and blankets in the car.

“We were very concerned because we couldn’t see a baby anywhere,” Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton said Monday. “We searched everywhere.”

They soon learned that 8-month-old Laken Sowell wasn’t in the car. She was with a babysitter.

But her mother, Taylor Sowell, 19, died at the scene from head injuries. She was the driver of the 2000 Intrepid that was struck on her side by a train at a crossing on 48th Street as she headed toward US 50, Walton said.

Dylan Sowell, 20, Laken’s father and Taylor’s husband, was in the front passenger seat. He was listed in fair condition Monday at Wesley Medical Center, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Kyle Malek, 17, Taylor’s brother, was in the back seat and sustained a concussion, Walton said. Wesley didn’t have him listed as a patient.

Taylor Sowell grew up in Sedgwick and graduated from Sedgwick High School, but she and her family had moved recently to Newton. She was a nursing student at Bethel College in North Newton, Walton said.

Her grandfather was a police chief in Sedgwick, Sedgwick Police Chief Ray Huff said.

“She was a really sweet person, bubbly and happy,” Huff said. “She was always a pleasure to be around.”

Taylor was westbound on 48th about noon Saturday when she attempted to drive over the elevated crossing. The crossing doesn’t have any lights or arms, Walton said.

“The only warning is if the train blows the whistle,” Walton said. He didn’t know if the train blew the whistle before striking the car or why she didn’t see the train.

A Facebook page with pictures has been set up in her honor at R.I.P. Taylor Sowell.

Townspeople in Sedgwick are in the process of setting up a fund to help defray medical costs and funeral expenses, Huff said, but details hadn’t been finalized.

Reach Rick Plumlee at 316-268-6660 or at rplumlee@wichitaeagle.com.

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