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Fatal wrecks spur police warning

A deadly weekend on Wichita's streets brought the number of traffic fatalities worked by police to 28 this year and prompted a warning for motorists to slow down and pay attention while driving.

Two men on motorcycles were killed within 12 hours of each other, and a Towanda woman died after her van slammed into an SUV stopped on the left shoulder of eastbound Kellogg in west Wichita.

"This time of year, people's minds are in a lot of different places," Lt. Joe Schroeder said Monday. "I know it's a busy time of year. We still need to pay attention to our driving."

Robert Lee Friend, 49, of Wichita, was killed Friday when his motorcycle collided head-on with a Ford F-150 pickup shortly before 11 p.m. in the 2500 block of South Oliver, Schroeder said.

The pickup was coming south on Oliver and was preparing to turn left into an apartment complex when it collided with Friend's northbound motorcycle, Schroeder said.

"The motorcycle appears to have attempted to do an evasive maneuver, but was unsuccessful in avoiding a collision," Schroeder said.

Friend was not wearing a helmet, Schroeder said, but a 25-year-old woman riding with him was. She was taken to Wesley Medical Center in critical condition and remained hospitalized on Monday.

The driver of the pickup was not injured.

On Saturday morning, 22-year-old Joshua Dement of Wichita was riding west on MacArthur Road on a 1994 Honda CRX sportbike at about 10:15 a.m. when he collided with a Ford F-150 that was turning from the exit ramp off I-235 onto eastbound MacArthur.

Dement died at the scene, and the driver of the pickup was not injured.

Witnesses said Dement was driving at "an extremely high rate of speed," Schroeder said.

"According to witnesses... they did not see the motorcycle until it collided with the truck. The truck driver stated he never saw the motorcycle."

Dement was wearing a helmet, but Schroeder said the forces involved in the collision were so great he could not survive the crash.

"Speed kills," Schroeder said. "There's no other way to say it. Not only does speed reduce reaction time, it reduces people's perception of distances."

The woman killed on West Kellogg on Saturday night was identified as 56-year-old Rose Marie Ogden of Towanda.

A 39-year-old Lyons man told police he sensed he was about to become ill as he was driving east in the 4200 block of West Kellogg shortly before 7:45 p.m., Schroeder said.

Unable to pull over to the right because of traffic, he instead stopped on the left edge of the inside lane and turned on the GMC Yukon's hazard lights. He told police he was concerned that he would lose control of his vehicle if he became ill, Schroeder said.

He left the Yukon and was vomiting near the concrete barrier when it was struck by Ogden's Chevy Astro van, Schroeder said.

"It appears she never saw the vehicle before she hit it," Schroeder said.

Ogden died at a local hospital. The Yukon driver's 34-year-old wife and four children were wearing seatbelts and several of them suffered minor injuries.

They were taken to Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis for treatment.

"Under normal circumstances, it is dangerous to pull a vehicle to the left shoulder at any time for any reason," Schroeder said. "You should always make every effort to get to the right shoulder.

"The right shoulder is wider. It is designed for you to move off the roadway if you have a breakdown."

The weekend crashes bring the traffic fatality total in Wichita to 28 this year, not counting fatalities worked by the Kansas Highway Patrol.

Eleven of those deaths were motorcyclists, Schroeder said, and 17 of the fatalities involved people who were driving under the influence.

Each of the weekend crashes will be presented to the Sedgwick County District Attorney's Office for review and possible charges, Schroeder said — though it's not a given that any charges will be filed.

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