Witnesses said two motorcycle drivers appeared to be racing in the moments prior to a collision with a flatbed truck that killed one man and sent two other people to the hospital late Monday afternoon, a police official said.
The two motorcycles were stopped at a traffic light on Pawnee at Webb Road at about 4:45 p.m. Monday, Capt. Brent Allred said Tuesday.
When the light turned green, “they took off at a fairly high rate of speed” in the curb lane, heading west on Pawnee, he said. Ahead of them in the same lane was a flatbed truck.
Jeremy Emerson, 28, one of the motorcyclists, swerved in an attempt to avoid striking the back of the truck but was unsuccessful, Allred said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
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The second biker, identified in police records as Johanna “Joe” Saada, 25, swerved to avoid being hit by Emerson, Allred said. His motorcycle jumped the curb and crashed in a grassy area near Cooper.
Saada and his 13-year-old sister, who was riding with him, were taken to Wesley Medical Center for treatment, Allred said. Joe Saada was in critical condition Tuesday afternoon, his sister in fair condition.
“It appears speed was a factor in this,” Allred said. “The motorcycle riders were just driving too fast.”
There’s no indication the two riders knew each other, Allred said. A witness who saw the bikers at the traffic light said it appeared they exchanged hand signals indicating a willingness to race.
Emerson is the 30th person to die in a traffic accident in Wichita this year, Lt. Doug Nolte said. Six of those deaths were people riding motorcycles.