Wichita police: Traffic fatalities outpacing last year’s

With two recent traffic deaths, Wichita is on a pace to reach a high traffic fatality number for the year, police Lt. Joe Schroeder said Wednesday.

So far this year, there have been 24 traffic deaths, compared to 14 at the same time last year. At that pace, the city could see a repeat of 2006, when 36 people died, the most Schroeder could remember in recent years.

“People in Wichita need to understand that a lot of these traffic fatalities occur because an error has been made,” Schroeder said. “People need to slow down. They need to drive more courteous. They need to curb their aggressive behavior.”

Schroeder gave new information about the two most recent fatalities.

About 3:15 Tuesday afternoon, a white panel van driven by Richard A. Baker, 40, of Wichita ran a red light at the north interchange of Meridian and I-235, Schroeder said. The van collided with a white Lincoln driven by an 82-year-old woman. The van overturned, and Baker, who was not in a safety belt, was partly ejected and died as a result of the van rolling onto him, Schroeder said. The other driver was in serious but stable condition when she was taken to a hospital, he said. Witnesses said the van ran a red light, he said.

Seat belt use is reportedly up. Still, people don’t realize the force involved when a two-ton vehicle rolls over, he said.

Schroeder also announced that a man who was injured in an August accident has died. Schroeder identified the man as Mark W. Allsbury, 54, of Wichita. That incident occurred shortly before 7 p.m. Aug. 27, when Allsbury was walking along Washington near Harry. According to witnesses and “obvious signs at the scene,” he was intoxicated when he fell off the curb into traffic, Schroeder said.

Allsbury died of his injuries Tuesday night, he said.

Although that incident will be reviewed by the District Attorney’s Office, according to witness accounts the vehicle that hit Allsbury made every attempt to miss him, Schroeder said.

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