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Child among 4 hurt in collision involving fleeing car in southeast Wichita

A Kansas Highway Patrol investigator looks at the scene of a two-car collision at the corner of George Washington Boulevard and Pawnee that happened Tuesday morning. A man and child were in the car next to the trooper and the car in the background was a car police were pursuing at the time of the crash, a sheriff official said. (Nov. 4, 2014)
A Kansas Highway Patrol investigator looks at the scene of a two-car collision at the corner of George Washington Boulevard and Pawnee that happened Tuesday morning. A man and child were in the car next to the trooper and the car in the background was a car police were pursuing at the time of the crash, a sheriff official said. (Nov. 4, 2014) The Wichita Eagle

Four people, including a 16-month-old girl, were seriously hurt in a two-vehicle collision involving a fleeing car in southeast Wichita on Tuesday morning, a sheriff’s official said.

The collision was reported at 8:19 a.m. at Pawnee and George Washington Boulevard, a Sedgwick County dispatch supervisor said. All four people were taken to Wesley Medical Center.

The toddler’s injuries were particularly critical, with the child not responding well at the time of transport. She and her 34-year-old father, Rodelio Gales, who were together in a passenger car, both remained in critical condition Tuesday evening, a Wesley operator said.

The other two people hurt – 22-year-old Kenneth Libich and 32-year-old Destiny Brown – were in a second passenger car, according to a Kansas Highway Patrol crash report. Libich was listed in critical condition at Wesley on Tuesday evening, the hospital operator said; she did not have information on Brown’s condition.

The collision occurred 33 seconds after a deputy tried to stop a car by activating emergency lights and siren, said sheriff’s Lt. Lin Dehning. He gave this account:

About 8 a.m. sheriff’s personnel were looking for a stolen car in southeast Wichita; the victims of the theft saw the suspects get into another car, a blue car.

A deputy spotted the blue car and was behind the car at George Washington and Oliver. The deputy tried to stop the blue car, but it went north on George Washington and collided 33 seconds later with a gold sedan heading east on Pawnee.

The gold sedan was carrying a 34-year-old man and his 16-month-old daughter and came to rest facing west in the intersection. A child safety seat sat in the middle of the intersection after the crash, where first responders apparently left it after removing it from the vehicle.

The fleeing blue car was carrying a 22-year-old man and a 32-year-old woman, and the car had an Alabama license tag. The blue car came to rest against a wooden fence bordering a side yard at a house at the intersection.

There will be a review to determine whether the deputy followed policy in pursuing the blue car, Dehning said. He and sheriff’s Capt. David Mattingly said repeatedly that authorities’ thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by the collision.

The Kansas Highway Patrol is investigating the collision, Dehning said, while sheriff’s officials are looking into the pursuit and auto theft.

Dehning said officials expect to provide more information at a briefing for media at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

Contributing: Stan Finger and Amy Renee Leiker of The Eagle

Reach Tim Potter at 316-268-6684 or tpotter@wichitaeagle.com.

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