• Last modified 1071 days ago (July 16, 2021)


Reckless driving blamed in July 4 accident

Staff writer

Reckless, careless, antagonistic or aggressive driving were contributing factors in a July 4 accident that left a man seriously injured after a side-by-side sports vehicle veered into a ditch and overturned on him, according to police reports.

Todd Winter is still in intensive care at Wesley Medical Center, Wichita, nearly 10 days after he was rushed there,

Hospital staff reported his condition as stable.

Police chief Clinton Jeffrey said authorities still were tracking down and interviewing witnesses.

No citations have been issued, but Jeffrey plans to submit a report to the county attorney by the end of next week.

Officer Steve Janzen’s police report states that a 2021 Polaris driven by Russell Hake, 52, Marion, and owned by Riley Hake, Marion, skidded more than 150 feet across a gravel road before crashing into the opposite ditch.

“It appears there was an exhibition of speed,” Jeffrey said. “The tires were spinning, and the vehicle clearly had no traction.”

The police report states no evidence of alcohol use was detected and that no tests for blood alcohol levels were administered at the time.

Jeffrey said so many people gathered at the site that police had trouble determining who the driver of the vehicle was.

“It was chaos when they got there,” Jeffrey said.

By the time investigators determined Hake was the driver, it was too late for tests to check whether or not he had been drinking, Jeffrey said.

The combination of a rough gravel road and speed could have contributed to the driver losing control, Jeffrey said.

“That’s a pretty high-performance vehicle, and plenty of people can drive them in town,” he said. “But when drivers accelerate, they can lose control and have a difficult time regaining it. It was unfortunate that someone was injured.”

Winter’s wife, Shawna, thanked supporters and said Todd was still awaiting a final surgery and will remain in the intensive care because he needed to be fed by a nasogastric tube.

“I’ve been assured that it’s normal for having so much trauma to the abdomen and so many abdominal surgeries, in such a short amount of time,” she said.

She said her husband was “in much less pain” and was resting more comfortably.

A benefit carwash is planned from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at J&K Carwash 201 S. 3rd St.

Donors have pledged to match to the first $1,000. Proceeds will go to Todd Winter’s family.

Some editions of this week's paper incorrectly stated that Riley Hake rather than Russell Hake was driving the side-by-side. The newspaper apologizes for the error.

Last modified July 16, 2021