Crime & Courts

Driver in I-70 fatal wrong-way crash was drunk

A Texas man who drove the wrong way on I-70 last March and killed two young Wichitans was driving drunk, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol.

Joseph Pena, 27, of Corpus Christi, had an alcohol level of .213 at the time of the accident near Wilson in Ellsworth County, said Lt. Scott Herrington. The legal limit is .08.

Troopers say Pena was driving the wrong way on I-70 on March 23 when he crashed into an eastbound car, killing Kylie Jobe, 20, and Kyle Thornburg, 22.

Both were graduates of Maize High School and were returning from a family ski trip in Colorado.

Pena also died in the crash.

—Ron Sylvester

Some Wichita schools to get new principals

Several Wichita elementary schools will have new principals next year, district officials have announced.

Matt Snodgrass, principal of Emerson Open Magnet Elementary, will become principal at Cessna Elementary in the fall. Cessna principal Brad Pepper is leaving the district, officials said.

Bill Savage, principal of Bryant Core Knowledge Magnet Elementary this year, will become principal at Emerson in the fall. And Dave Saunders, principal at Jardine Middle School, will be the new principal at Bryant.

Lura Atherly, principal at Blackbear Bosin Academy, will be the principal at Jardine next year. District officials announced earlier this month that Blackbear Bosin, an alternative middle school, will close and the program move to Jardine as a "school within a school."

Principal changes at the middle school level have not yet been announced. There are no changes expected at Wichita high schools.

—Suzanne Perez Tobias

Teens accused of starting fire at house

Three teenagers playing hooky from school are in custody on suspicion of setting fire to a vacant house in the 700 block of West Dayton, fire officials said Tuesday.

An inspector with the city's central inspection office was in the area at 10:30 a.m. Monday and noticed smoke coming from the home and reported it, Wichita fire Capt. Stuart Bevis said.

Three boys — ages 14, 15 and 16 — were seen leaving the scene as police arrived and were taken into custody. They were booked into the Juvenile Detention Facility.

Investigators found three small fires had been set inside the home. The damage was estimated at $2,000, mostly to carpet hangings on walls, Bevis said.

There were no injuries.

—Rick Plumlee

Police identify Cheney man as crash victim

A Cheney man who died Monday night in a crash on west U.S. 54 has been identified by the Kansas Highway Patrol.

Ronald Hodge, 59, was driving a Porsche westbound on U.S. 54 just past 263rd Street West between Goddard and Garden Plain when he crashed.

Authorities said the sports car was speeding when it tried to pass a Ford Explorer. The Porsche rear-ended the Explorer, then drove off the road. It flipped several times and killed Hodge, according to the KHP.

—Sarah Rajewski