Equipment testing to be done in loose-trailer crash that killed Hutchinson couple

08/25/2014 9:37 AM

08/26/2014 9:49 AM

Great Bend police are requesting special testing of equipment to help determine what caused a trailer to come loose and kill a Hutchinson couple riding a motorcycle on Aug. 16.

The ball and hitch on the pickup pulling the trailer will be sent to a lab, possibly the one operated by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, police Lt. Bill Browne said Monday.

“We want to see how much wear and tear that’s actually on the ball and hitch to determine how much movement we have in it,” he added. “We want to make sure everything was working properly.”

Shawn and Danielle Schellenger, the parents of two young children, died after the trailer came loose from the pickup and struck their motorcycle near the Great Bend city limits. The 6-by-12-foot trailer was hauling a riding lawnmower.

Shawn Schellenger was a jail deputy for the Reno County Sheriff’s Office. On the sheriff’s Facebook page, Lt. Thad Pickard posted later Monday that the deaths of the couple “could have been avoided by having a safety chain on the trailer.”

Great Bend police couldn’t be reached to confirm that a chain wasn’t used.

Earlier Monday, Browne said further testing of the pickup’s ball and hitch is being done after police met last week with the Barton County Attorney’s Office.

“They’ve asked us to do a little more follow-up, more re-interviewing,” he said.

The investigation is expected to be concluded in the next week, he said. The information will then be sent to County Attorney Doug Matthews for consideration of possible charges.

Alcohol use was not involved in the crash, he added.

Reach Rick Plumlee at 316-268-6660 or rplumlee@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @rickplumlee.

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