Police identify man killed in downtown Wichita street race

A traffic accident at Douglas and Market left one man dead and injured a woman Sunday afternoon. (Jan. 13, 2014)
A traffic accident at Douglas and Market left one man dead and injured a woman Sunday afternoon. (Jan. 13, 2014) The Wichita Eagle

Police on Monday identified a 26-year-old man who was killed when he lost control of his car during a spontaneous street race with a second vehicle Sunday afternoon in downtown Wichita.

Jorge Espinosa-Velez died at the scene of the crash after his car struck a decorative stone pillar at Douglas and Market shortly before 3 p.m. Sunday, Lt. Joe Schroeder said Monday.

“Witnesses indicate the two vehicles were engaging in a race” heading west on Douglas, Schroeder said.

Espinosa-Velez appeared to lose control of his black Honda when it bottomed out as it got to Broadway, he said, and the car struck a stone pillar on the driver’s door. Espinosa-Velez died on impact.

A 23-year-old passenger was taken to a local hospital, Schroeder said.

The 26-year-old man driving the other car in the apparent street race returned to the scene and attempted to render aid, Schroeder said. He said the two drivers knew each other.

No arrests have been made, he said, but the investigation is not completed. Neither alcohol nor drugs appear to be factors in the incident.

“We do believe speed was a factor,” he said.

But investigators have not released an estimate on the top speed or how fast Espinosa-Velez was traveling when he lost control of his Honda convertible.

There was no contact between the Honda or the gray 2004 Chrysler driven by the other man prior to the accident, Schroeder said. A witness said the two cars were stopped at a traffic light in downtown Wichita and the drivers apparently made the spontaneous decision to race.

“Street racing does occur in Wichita,” Schroeder said, but it’s more commonly done in industrial areas in the evenings where there’s little traffic.

“I don’t know that it happens here any more or any less than anywhere else.”

The fact that two people would choose to race in downtown Wichita in the middle of the afternoon “is an unusual occurrence,” Schroeder said.

The Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office will decide whether criminal charges will be filed as a result of the incident, he said.

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