A retired bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita remains in critical condition after a heart attack and crash, officials said.
Matt Vainer, a diocese spokesman, said Bishop Emeritus Eugene J. Gerber suffered a heart attack while driving Wednesday evening and crashed off I-135.
Wichita police were called to a reported crash with injuries at around 11 p.m. Wednesday at I-135 and 13th Street, Officer Charley Davidson said. An 87-year-old man was taken to a hospital in critical condition.
An investigation determined the man was driving a 2018 Toyota Highlander and exited northbound I-135 at 13th Street, where the SUV left the road, struck a bridge pillar and then struck a barrier wall. Davidson said investigators think the driver suffered a medical issue, contributing to the crash.
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Via Christi spokeswoman Roz Hutchinson said Friday afternoon that Gerber remains in critical condition at Via Christi Hospital St. Francis.
Gerber served as the eighth bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita from 1983 until his retirement in 2001. He has remained active in various organizations and ministries within the Church, the diocese website states.
The diocese is asking people to pray for Gerber.
“Please join in prayer for our beloved Bishop Emeritus Eugene J. Gerber who has suffered a heart attack, and is in a cardiac intensive care unit at a local hospital,” stated Facebook posts from the Church of the Blessed Sacrament and the Church of the Magdalen.
Gerber was born in Kingman County in 1931 and was a native of St. Louis parish, the website states. He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Wichita in 1959 and appointed Bishop of Dodge City in 1976 before he returned to Wichita.