A 31-year-old man had just left a west Wichita bar minutes before speeding east on Maple and running a red light as his SUV slammed into the driver’s side of a Chevy Impala driving north on Tracy near Towne West Square early Sunday morning, a police official said Monday.
“It does not appear that the (man driving the Ford) Expedition ever touched his brakes,” homicide Lt. Todd Ojile said.
The collision just after 2 a.m. Sunday killed all three occupants of the Impala’s back seat: Zachery Taylor, 26, of Valley Center, Jake Hallacy, 26, of Valley Center, and Emily Phillips, 21, of McPherson.
Two of the three were ejected from the Impala by the force of the impact, Ojile said. All three died at the scene.
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Two women in the front seat, the 23-year-old driver and a 19-year-old passenger, were taken to Via Christi Hospital St. Francis for treatment. The passenger has already been released, Ojile said, and the driver is expected to survive her injuries.
“It appears alcohol was a factor” in the crash, Ojile said.
Law enforcement records show a Juan Pablo Gandara-Rodela was booked into the Sedgwick County Jail on suspicion of three counts of second-degree murder, two counts of aggravated battery, reckless driving, disobeying a traffic signal and fleeing the scene of an accident inflicting great bodily harm.
Ojile said Gandara-Rodela ran from the scene of the collision and hitched a ride to his house in the 4400 block of South Victoria, just west of Oaklawn in south Wichita. He was arrested there shortly after 3:30 a.m., records show.
The three deaths raise the number of traffic fatalities in Wichita to 20 so far this year, Ojile said.
Evidence in the case will be presented to the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office either Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday, he said.
Families of Taylor and Hallacy were making funeral arrangements Monday afternoon.
“We’re burying them together,” Ladonna Moon, Taylor’s mother, said.
Taylor overcame Ewing’s sarcoma, a bone cancer, that was diagnosed as a junior in high school.
“A couple of times, I thought it was all over,” he told the Ark Valley News in 2007.
But he worked hard to keep up with his school assignments, and graduated with his classmates. He enjoyed fishing and going four-wheeling with friends.
A Jake Hallacy Memorial Fund has been set up on www.youcaring.com to raise money for his funeral.
“You could not be in the same room with him and not be infected by his contagious smile, silly laugh, and his warm heart,” a tribute to Hallacy stated. “He loved people of all walks of life and never judged anyone for being different.
“Jake was outgoing, he never knew a stranger,” the tribute continued. “With a heart of gold and fire he lived his life with a passion to experience everything. He wanted to take it all in and never miss an opportunity for a good time, or a good memory.”