Wichita police said four people were killed Saturday and a fifth person critically injured when a car crashed into a concrete barrier, tipped on its nose and caught fire along Oliver on the bridge that arches over East Kellogg.
A Wichita police officer who arrived first on the scene was able to pull one woman out of the car to safety, Wichita police Sgt. Bart Brunscheen said about an hour after the 7:43 p.m. crash. The woman was transported to Wesley Medical Center in critical condition. The others, he said, were pronounced dead at the scene.
At about 8:45 p.m. Saturday, Brunscheen said that the crash killed at least two people and possibly a third, but authorities at the time were awaiting the arrival of a coroner to determine exactly how many people were dead. The dark-colored SUV remained perched on its nose as he spoke, braced by authorities to keep fire crews and other emergency personnel safe during the early stages of the investigation. Though the flames had been extinguished, smoke still rolled off the tail end of the vehicle into the damp air.
The Eagle received confirmation shortly before midnight that four bodies were found the vehicle, a Ford Escape. Wichita police Sgt. John Ryan, who confirmed the number dead by phone, said they ranged in age from 20 to 40s. He said the victims were acquaintances and “most are from the Wichita area.”
The woman hospitalized was undergoing surgery Saturday night, Ryan said. He described the condition of the woman, in her 30s, as “extremely critical” and said she was a passenger in the SUV.
At the crash scene, Brunscheen said witnesses reported seeing the car traveling west on Kellogg Drive at “a high rate of speed” before hitting a curb. The car then crossed all lanes of traffic, according to witness accounts, and collided with a short concrete barrier separating the street from a pedestrian walk across the bridge. The impact forced the car up onto its nose, where it caught fire, Brunscheen said.
“The vehicle hit at pretty high impact,” he said.
Authorities were expected to keep the stretch of Oliver affected by the crash closed into the overnight hours. Details on the victims, including their names and genders, were not released immediately. More details on the crash are expected in the coming days.
Despite rain that moved across the Wichita area Saturday afternoon and evening, Brunscheen said there is no immediate evidence that weather played a role in the crash.
No other vehicles were involved.