TONGANOXIE, Kan. -- A semi crashed into a toll booth along Interstate 70 in the early hours of Saturday morning. Thirty-year-old Sergiy Angelchev died in the crash and 25-year-old Roman Ilyaich is alive, but in critical condition. Both men are from Aurora, Colorado.
"I've worked on the turnpike for five years and I've never seen a crash like this at the toll plaza," said Master Trooper Mike Gruber of the Kansas Highway Patrol Turnpike Authority.
Investigators spent Saturday picking through a field of debris in an effort to discover why the driver of this semi blasted through the I-70 toll booth near Tonganoxie about 3 a.m. on Saturday.
“According to some witnesses that were traveling behind the semi, it was running at highway speed and didn't appear to break. It basically just ran into the toll plaza,” said Trooper Gruber.
Angelchev was ejected and died at the scene; Ilyaich was removed from the cab and life-flighted to a nearby hospital. Authorities haven’t determined which one was driving, but say neither was wearing a seatbelt.
“It appears the classified vehicle went between what would be the number 3 and number 4 lane and just rode up that barrier wall,” said Trooper Gruber.
The trailer jack-knifed around the divider, spewing its load of garden supplies for nearly 200 feet. The impact projected the engine forward along the interstate, where it landed more than 50 feet from the cab. The entry booth itself was unmanned, but this problem is compounded by another accident at the same toll plaza last weekend.
“We had a semi come through here last weekend, the far booth on the right, it ripped the ticket counter out of the booth and cracked the concrete tunnel under the turnpike,” Trooper Gruber said.
As traffic crept through one lane, crews began to clean up and dismantle the entire canopy over the plaza.