A Wichita man has died in a crash with a semitrailer hauling cattle just outside Newton, Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton said Monday night.
Walton said the man, identified by the Kansas Highway Patrol as 54-year-old Michael Ehss, was trying to pass a vehicle in front of him while driving east on U.S. 50 at Hillside about one or two miles east of Newton when he collided with a truck hauling about 40 head of cattle. The truck went into the north-side ditch, landed on its side and burst into flames, Walton said. The accident occurred at about 6 p.m. Monday.
Ehss’ Toyota Camry came to rest in the eastbound ditch and also caught fire, according to an accident report filed by the Kansas Highway Patrol. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The driver of the cattle truck crawled out and “appears to be OK” but was taken Wesley Medical Center for observation, Walton said. He was released before 11 p.m., according to a hospital operator.
As of about 9:45 p.m., responders had gotten 12 head of cattle out of the truck. Walton said he did not know how many still inside the truck were injured or how many were dead.
“The ones in the front of the trailer, they’re probably deceased,” Walton said.
Farmers helped get the cattle out and set up gates to keep them in one area as they left the truck.
“Without them, we’d be lost,” Walton said of the farmers, adding that he feared cattle would get loose on the highway and cause more accidents.
A veterinarian was at the scene. Animals were taken to a farm about a half-mile away, Walton said.
Contributing: Stan Finger of the Eagle