Politics & Government

Sheriff, county look to fix intersection where off-duty officer, son died in crash

A roadside memorial at 21st and 167th Street West marks where off-duty Wichita police Officer Stacy Woodson died in a traffic collision Friday night. Woodson, 37, had been a Wichita police officer for 16 years. His 9-year-old son, Braeden, was riding with him and was critically injured. The boy died over the weekend in the hospital. (April 30, 2018)
A roadside memorial at 21st and 167th Street West marks where off-duty Wichita police Officer Stacy Woodson died in a traffic collision Friday night. Woodson, 37, had been a Wichita police officer for 16 years. His 9-year-old son, Braeden, was riding with him and was critically injured. The boy died over the weekend in the hospital. (April 30, 2018) The Wichita Eagle

Sedgwick County has begun working to improve safety at an intersection west of Wichita where an off-duty police motorcycle officer and his 9-year-old son were killed in a crash last week.

The county is analyzing the intersection at 167th Street and 21st Street North in the wake of the deaths of Officer Stacy Woodson and his son, Braeden.

The Woodsons were fatally injured Friday when a motorist, suspected of driving under the influence, pulled out in front of the motorcycle they were riding and they ran into his truck.

“This is a tragedy for our community,” said commission Chairman David Dennis. “We’re deeply saddened by the loss of this officer and his son.

“It’s right in the middle of my district so it’s very near and dear to my heart what’s going on out there.”

It was the second fatal crash at the site in two years. Another motorcyclist died there in a single-fatality crash last year, Sheriff Jeff Easter said.

The intersection has stop signs and flashing attention lights on 167th both north and southbound. The traffic on 21st does not stop.

Easter said the issue appeared to be related to driver inattention: “individuals stopping, either north or south on 167th, pretty much just kind of glancing both ways and then kind of darting across the intersection without really taking the time to look and make sure there’s no traffic coming.”

In the accident that killed the Woodsons, “We know that the individual stopped at the stop sign, so the stop sign worked,” Dennis said.

Easter and county traffic engineer Mark Borst presented accident statistics and their preliminary plan for the intersection to the commission at a staff meeting Tuesday.

The consensus of the county officials was that something needs to be done about the intersection, but exactly what will have to wait for a full traffic study that will probably wake at least a couple of weeks.

Public Works has already put out sensors to gauge the volume and speed of the traffic. The last such check found that cars were generally running along at slightly over 60 mph in the area where the speed limit is 55, Borst said.

Easter reported that there have been 18 accidents at the site since the beginning of 2014.

That’s counting the two fatal accidents that claimed three lives and nine accidents where people were injured, he said.

Two of the accidents involved driving under the influence.

Also on Tuesday, KFDI radio held an event in memory of the Woodsons at the Law Enforcement Memorial on the south side of Central between City Hall and the county courthouse.

Passersby were invited to sign a black-and-white American flag with a single blue stripe, a symbol of support for police. Dozens of people wrote messages on the flag, which will be presented to the Woodson family.

“We’re really going to miss him,” said Mark Bloomquist, a Wichita detective who signed the flag Tuesday morning. “This is for the family.”

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