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ATV accident at Big Ditch kills Sedgwick County man, 25

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014, at 8:01 p.m.
  • Updated Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, at 5:04 p.m.

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A 25-year-old Sedgwick County man was killed Sunday afternoon while riding his all-terrain vehicle with friends along the Wichita-Valley Center Floodway, known as the Big Ditch.

The accident happened about 3 p.m.

When Sedgwick County sheriff’s officers arrived at the scene in the 6800 block of South Hydraulic, they found the man dead; another had received minor injuries, and a third was uninjured, according to Sgt. Nathan Gibbs with the sheriff’s office.

The three friends had all been riding on separate ATVs. The 25-year-old apparently did not see a small drainage ditch that feeds into the larger portion of the Big Ditch, Gibbs said.

“He went straight off of it,” Gibbs said.

Gibbs said all three were unlawfully riding in the area. All three were wearing helmets; one was wearing a chest guard.

Ean Thomas, a Derby resident who was visiting his grandparents, was in the area shortly after the accident happened.

“I eventually walked all the way down there to see what was going on,” Thomas said. “He didn’t see the ditch when he came up to it and was going at a well-enough speed he made impact.”

When officers arrived in the area, there were about half a dozen other ATVs in the Big Ditch area.

“I believe it is a $520 fine for operating motor vehicles in the Big Ditch area,” Gibbs said. “There are signs posted for no trespassing.”

The incident is currently under investigation. Gibbs would not comment on whether the two survivors of the accident would face fines.

“It is a fairly common occurrence to see people down in the ditch,” he said. “Accidents, fortunately, are not as common.”

If people do see other people trespassing at the Big Ditch, they are encouraged to call 911, Gibbs said.

The Big Ditch area is constantly monitored, and tickets are given for people who trespass, operate ATVs or dirt bikes or who discharge firearms, he said.

“We regularly issue citations through the county courts. It is unlawful to ride back here for a reason: There are lots of areas that drop off,” Gibbs said. “If you are not familiar with the terrain, there is debris out there. We don’t want erosion problems from motor vehicles out here.”

Reach Beccy Tanner at 316-268-6336 or btanner@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @beccytanner.

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