• Last modified 987 days ago (Nov. 10, 2021)


Ailing driver pulls over and into a hedge row

Staff writers

Two ambulance crews spent 20 minutes searching Friday evening before discovering a pickup truck whose driver, feeling ill, had driven off a roadway, through a four-foot ditch and a field, and into a tree in a hedge row 100 feet away.

At 7:05 p.m., dispatchers were notified by a caller that Randy Eitzen, 62, rural Peabody, had telephoned to say he was about to pass out while driving near 90th and Indigo Rds.

The caller reportedly told Eitzen to pull off the road, but before the advice was acknowledged, the call ended, and Eitzen would not answer when called back.

Both Hillsboro and Peabody ambulances were dispatched to the area. They checked several miles of Indigo Rd. — Hillsboro ambulance from the north, Peabody ambulance from the south — to no avail.

Hillsboro ambulance had given up and was headed back to Hillsboro when dispatchers and a Peabody ambulance attendant suggested that the caller might have gone east on 90th.

Searching there, Hillsboro ambulance discovered a vehicle half a mile east of the intersection in a tree row later estimated to be 100 feet south of the roadway.

Undersheriff Larry Starkey said Eitzen’s pickup was going east and south when it hit the north-south hedgerow.

Ambulance attendants thought Eitzen was trapped in the vehicle and asked for Peabody firefighters and rescue squad members to extricate him.

After only two firefighters responded, a deputy sheriff just arriving at the accident asked for Hillsboro firefighters and rescue squad members to be called as well.

Minutes later, ambulance attendants managed to get Eitzen out of the vehicle, but firefighters still were needed to help carry him from the tree row to Peabody ambulance.

“It takes more than two people to carry him across a field,” Starkey said.

After it was determined that a helicopter ambulance was not needed, Eitzen was loaded into the ambulance, destined for Newton Medical Center, but the ambulance was diverted to Wesley Medical Center, Wichita.

A wrecker crew removed the heavily damaged vehicle from the hedge row at 9:15 p.m.

The vehicle, a four-door 2019 Chevrolet Silverado Z71 pickup, sustained extensive damage. The engine compartment crumpled against the passenger compartment firewall, and the hood was bent upward like butterfly wings — consistent with a high-speed collision with a tree.

Several windows were broken, and a bent steering wheel, blood stains, and a shattered mobile phone were present inside the cab.

Last modified Nov. 10, 2021