A 31-year-old mother and her three young sons suffered injuries — some life-threatening — Saturday afternoon when their SUV slid off a K-96 exit ramp in northeast Wichita and rolled down a steep ditch.
Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper John Maier said the mother, of Wichita, was “slightly conscious but unable to communicate” after she and her 6- and 12-year-old sons were thrown from the 1999 GMC Yukon Denali she drove. The 6-year-old was unresponsive and undergoing surgery Saturday evening, he said.
The 12-year-old and another son, age 8, sustained cuts and bruises. Both were conscious when authorities arrived, Maier said.
The crash happened about 3:15 p.m. on the Hillside exit ramp, north of K-96.
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Maier said it appeared the driver “overcorrected the vehicle a little bit” after she tried to exit the highway too late at Hillside, which caused the SUV to roll.
He gave this account:
The mother was traveling in the right-hand lane of westbound K-96 when she tried to exit too late onto the Hillside off-ramp. The SUV “nearly struck the exit sign,” then skidded across the ramp into a steep ditch, north of K-96. The mother swerved to the left to correct her path, but the SUV slid sideways. It rolled an unknown number of times and landed against a fence at the bottom of the ditch.
The mother and two of the boys were ejected, Maier said. The 8-year-old climbed out of the Denali after it stopped.
The impact partially caved in the SUV’s roof and crushed its front end. Windows and the windshield were shattered. No other vehicles were involved.
The family was taken by ambulance to Wesley Medical Center, Maier said. The mother and the 6-year-old were in critical condition. The older boys were in serious condition, he said.
The Eagle is withholding the victims’ names until next of kin is notified. Maier said the woman’s family had not been reached as of Saturday evening.
Maier said authorities on the scene failed to find a booster seat for the 6-year-old, “so we’re not sure he was restrained properly or restrained at all.”
It’s unknown whether the older boys or the mother were buckled up, he added. The 12-year-old was in the front passenger seat. Both of the younger boys were in the back seat, Maier said.
“Right now there’s no evidence to show that they were restrained,” he said.