The call to 911 late Sunday night said shots had been fired at a south Wichita nightclub, so police cars immediately began heading that way.
Two of them headed south on Hydraulic just before 9 p.m., but — in accordance with police procedure — did not have their lights and sirens activated.
Meanwhile, Christopher Perkins was driving north on Hydraulic in a Saturn coupe. He let the first patrol car pass, but then attempted to turn left onto El Monte — and was hit by the second patrol car.
The Kansas Highway Patrol reported that Perkins, 30, wasn't wearing a seat belt. He was taken to Via Christi Regional Medical Center-St. Francis Campus, where he was pronounced dead.
The officer driving the second car, identified by the Highway Patrol as 25-year-old Garrett Shaddix of Wellington, was taken to Wesley Medical Center, where he was treated and released.
"This is a bad time for both parties," Wichita Deputy Police Chief Tom Stolz said of the officer and Perkins' family.
Stolz said he has been told that Perkins was on his way to pick up a friend or friends at the McDonald's next to the Hydraulic exit of I-135.
But he missed the corner for McDonald's and decided to turn left onto El Monte so he could turn around.
"We don't have a lot of witnesses to this accident to know exactly what went on there," Stolz said.
Investigators are hoping to talk to people who were at the McDonald's at the time of the collision, he said. The officer's patrol car was not fitted with a dashboard camera.
The Highway Patrol is handling the crash investigation, Stolz said, because it is standard procedure to have an outside agency handle any serious or fatal crashes involving Wichita police officers.
"At the end of the day, they will make the call" as to the cause of the accident, he said.
Wichita's accident follow-up and critical-accident teams are assisting the Highway Patrol, Stolz said.
"We'll look at two things," Stolz said. "We'll look at the left-hand turn, and we'll look at the speeds of both vehicles."
Patrol cars have what Stolz called "black boxes" that can show the speed and how maneuverable the vehicle was at the time of a collision, he said.
Given the nature of the call, Stolz said, "the officers would be pushing it" in regard to the speed limit.
The speed limit for southbound traffic on that stretch of Hydraulic is 40 mph, according to a sign posted a few blocks to the north.
Officers are directed "to drive reasonably and safely," Stolz said.
"We have a pretty restrictive policy" on when lights and sirens can be activated, he said. "This was not that type of call."
The two patrol cars were close enough to each other that the first patrol car saw the collision in his rearview mirror, Stolz said.