A memorial fund was established Monday for the two children of a Hutchinson couple who died after their motorcycle was struck by a trailer that broke loose from a towing pickup.
In addition, the Kansas Highway Patrol has joined the investigation into what caused the trailer to break free Saturday in Great Bend.
Donations should be sent to the Schellenger Children’s Memorial Fund in care of the First National Bank of Hutchinson, 1525 E. 17th Ave., Hutchinson, KS 67501, according to the Reno County Sheriff’s Office.
Shawn and Danielle Schellenger died from injuries sustained in the accident. They are survived by their two children, Warren, 5, and Dominique, 7, according to the sheriff’s office.
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Both children were present at the time of the crash.
Shawn, 27, a jail deputy with the Reno County Sheriff’s Office, and Danielle, 33, were riding with a group of motorcyclists shortly before noon.
They were westbound in the 5600 block of 10th Street – a four-lane street just west of the city limits – when a trailer came loose from an eastbound pickup, crossed over and struck the Schellengers’ motorcycle, Great Bend police Lt. Bill Browne said.
One of their children was a passenger on another motorcycle ridden by Jeffrey Schellenger, Shawn’s father and the child’s grandfather. He laid down his motorcycle in an “avoidance maneuver,” Browne said.
Jeffrey Schellenger, 55, was treated and released from a hospital. The child was not injured, Browne said
The other child was riding on the back of a motorcycle operated by Reno County sheriff’s Deputy Dustin VanScyoc, according to the sheriff’s office. Vanscyoc wasn’t near the other two motorcycles when the trailer came loose.
The trailer has been seized by Great Bend police, Browne said. A highway patrol investigator is expected to arrive Tuesday to help determine what caused the trailer to come off the pickup.
“For some reason, it popped off,” Browne said. “After the highway patrol investigator looks at it, we’ll know more.”
The 6-by-12-foot trailer was hauling a riding lawnmower, Browne said. “It appears to be a homemade trailer,” he added.
The ball on the pickup’s hitch was also taken by police. It’s not known whether a safety chain was in use.
Danielle died Saturday afternoon at a Wichita hospital; Shawn died Sunday at the same hospital.
Shawn Schellenger was a 2005 graduate of Rose Hill High School; Danielle was from Florida. They met while they were both in the U.S. Army and later became engaged while they were serving in Iraq.
They were married following their Iraq tour.
Since 2010, Kansas has had 534 accidents involving trailers breaking loose from towing vehicles, according to the Kansas Department of Transportation.
Fifteen of those accidents resulted in 21 deaths. Those totals include the Great Bend crash.
Accidents involving trailers coming loose from vehicles
*2014 figures are unofficial and include Saturday’s double-fatality accident in Great Bend.
Source: Kansas Department of Transportation