Update: Fatal crash started with shoplifting call to Newton Wal-Mart


UPDATE 1:45 P.M.: Police say those killed in a Reno County crash after a law enforcement pursuit had stolen two carts of merchandise from the Newton Wal-Mart on Friday morning.

The Newton Police Department, on its Facebook page, said three people walked into the store shortly before 9 a.m. and tried to pay for about $1,100 of merchandise with fraudulent credit cards. They left the store with the loaded-down carts – abandoning one as a store employee approached them – then got into two different vehicles to flee.

An officer spotted one of the vehicles – a red car – driving west on Highway 50 and started a chase after learning it had been stolen. When the officer tried to pull the car over, its driver refused to stop and sped along the highway at up to 115 mph, the agency said.

The two suspected shoplifters died when the car swerved to avoid stop sticks laid out by law enforcement, lost control and slid sideways into the front of a semi that had stopped for a roadblock at Highway 50 and Kent Road near Hutchinson, Newton police said.

The crash was reported at around 9:15 a.m.

“Our department does have policies governing vehicle pursuits, and our staff will be reviewing the incident and videos to make sure the policies were followed,” the Newton Police Department said on Facebook. “This was an unfortunate incident that ended with a tragic loss of life.”

Those killed have not yet been identified by the Kansas Highway Patrol, which is investigating.

UPDATE 11 A.M.: What started as a high-speed pursuit following a shoplifting call out of Harvey County ended with two people dead in a collision near Hutchinson on Friday morning.

Reno County Sheriff Randy Henderson said the car being chased by law enforcement hit a semi parked on Highway 50 at Kent Road at around 9:15 a.m. The impact killed two people in the car.

Henderson said law enforcement had placed stop sticks in the car’s path to slow its pace and the driver either hit them or tried to avoid them and ran into the semi.

The semi, he said, had pulled over because of the chase. No one inside was hurt.

The Kansas Highway Patrol is at the scene investigating the collision. The Eagle will post more details as they become available.

ORIGINAL STORY 10:25 A.M.: Two people are dead following a traffic crash in Reno County.

The Reno County Sheriff’s Office said it happened at Highway 50 and Kent Road, which is near South Hutchinson. The Kansas Highway Patrol will be investigating.

This is a breaking new situation. We’ll post more information as it becomes available.

Amy Renee Leiker: 316-268-6644, @amyreneeleiker