Teen boy killed after semi rear-ends SUV on snow-covered Kansas interstate, officials say

A 16-year-old boy died after a crash on a snow-covered Kansas interstate two days after Christmas, officials said.

Emergency crews were called to a reported crash at around 10 a.m. Thursday on I-70 in western Kansas. They found a semi on the right shoulder of the westbound lanes, with an SUV pinned against the guardrail, a Kansas Highway Patrol crash report states.

Jackson Buerge, 16, of Overland Park, was taken to Logan County Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, the highway patrol said.

Jackson was a passenger in 2018 GMC Yukon traveling in the right lane of the interstate when it was rear-ended by a 2018 Peterbilt semi just outside of Oakley, the crash report states.

The crash happened as Winter Storm Eboni brought heavy snow and blizzard conditions to much of the Midwest, including western Kansas. The highway patrol report does not say whether troopers suspect weather conditions contributed to the wreck.

Minutes before the crash was reported, the Kansas Department of Transportation tweeted that portions of I-70 would be closing due to weather. State officials said about 30 minutes later that I-70 had been closed between Colby and WaKeeney. Oakley is between the two towns.

Road condition on I-70 at WaKeeney were listed as “completely covered” by snow in maps tweeted by KDOT at 8:45 a.m. and again at 9:30 a.m.

Gov. Jeff Colyer declared a State of Disaster Emergency prior to the storm, which was predicted to dump as much as a foot of snow in western areas of the state.

Three other people in the SUV were taken to Logan County Hospital with suspected serious injuries, the highway patrol crash report states. They were Justin Buerge, 42; Trisha Buerge, 40; and Maxwell Buerge, 9, all of Overland Park.

The driver of the semi had no apparent injury. He was identified in the report as Robert Goodine, 50, of Bartlesville, Okla.

Trooper Tod Hileman with the highway patrol said in a tweet Thursday morning that emergency crews were working two serious injury crashes on the interstate, between Hays and Colby. He later said there was a fatal crash.

“Please stay off the roads and stay safe, give (KDOT) time to clear them, it’s not worth your life,” he said in a tweet. “A hotel bill is cheaper than your insurance deductible btw!”

Drivers can check road conditions online at KanDrive.org.

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