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Report ‘not enough’ to file charges in ATV crash

Staff writer

Nearly four months after an ATV accident caused severe injury to a Marion man, county attorney Joel Ensey said he doesn’t have enough information from a police report to file charges against the driver.

Ensey said Friday he has not had time to sit down and talk with Marion resident Todd Winter, who was placed in intensive care at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita.

Winter was injured in a July 4 wreck of a 2020 Polaris RZR driven by Russell S. Hake, 52, Marion. The RZR overturned in a ditch at 9:11 p.m. on Kellison Rd. east of N. Coble St., pinning Winter.

Ensey has said since August, when police recommended felony charges against Hake, that he had not yet interviewed Winter.

“There’s no witness to the actual crash,” Ensey said. “It was a delayed investigation.”

Ensey said police followed up as best they could and talked to everybody they could.

“There is no evidence police found that they were intoxicated,” Ensey said.

Ensey said Winter told police he “doesn’t want charges.” Ensey said Winter could change his mind, but Ensey has not phoned Winter.

Asked whose decision it is whether charges are filed, Ensey said it was his own.

Officer Zach Hudlin responded to the accident, and thought Winter had been the driver. Hudlin left shortly after the ambulance left the scene.

Assistant police chief Steve Janzen wrote the accident report after investigating the following day.

Police chief Jeffrey Clinton earlier said Janzen wrote the report because Hudlin had written few accident reports. Police wanted the report done correctly because of the seriousness of Winter’s injuries.

Janzen learned Hake was driving the ATV, which was owned by his son, the following day when he checked with Hake about insurance information.

Darin Beck, executive director of Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center, earlier said all certified officers are taught how to investigate an accident and how to determine the driver.

He said he was surprised to hear the investigation had been taken over by Janzen and work begun the day after the accident.

“The longer you delay an investigation, the more likely you will lose evidence,” Beck said.

The vehicle had been removed before officers examined the scene and took measurements.

Burns open meeting dispute

Ensey also has taken no action in a series of ruckuses at Burns City Council meetings going back as far as June.

Alleged violations of state open meetings laws stirred up contention during meetings, at least once, leading to deputies being summoned and the police chief ordering people to leave the room at another meeting.

During one meeting, council members called an executive session to compose a request for a special meeting required under state law to be written before the meeting was called.

Property was sold to a city council member who owns property in Burns, but at that time resided in Newton.

State open meetings law presents a wide array of remedies ranging from requiring council members to get training in open meetings law to fining them for each violation of the law.

Fight in brother’s yard

Ensey also has made no decision whether to file charges in a July 14 fight at the property of his brother, Jeremy Ensey. Police said little about the fight at the time, but Jeremy Ensey was not involved in the matter.

The fight allegedly was between a father and a teen that sprung up over messages the teen sent to the father’s daughter.

Ensey said he would likely file disorderly conduct charges but did not specify when.

Last modified Oct. 27, 2021

 

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