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Police suspect distracted driving in Platte City crash that claimed three lives

PLATTE CITY, Mo. -- It was just normal, everyday traffic. Then, in an instant, three lives abruptly ended. And police believe it could have easily been avoided.

Police said a crash involving four-vehicles at about 12:30 p.m. on on Friday along Interstate 29 at 92-Highway killed three people and injured two others.

"We came across the bridge and everything down there was all crunched up."

Sharon Aring and her husband drove right past the triple fatal accident on I-29 minutes after it happened.

"All I could tell is there was a car and its wheels were facing up and I knew it had to be a horrible wreck," she recalled.

Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers said MoDOT workers were striping the highway Friday just after noon, which caused very slow stop-and-go traffic.

This ball of mangled metal is the wreckage of a GMC Envoy. Troopers said it was stopped on the highway behind the bobtail of a tractor trailer truck when a white Dodge pickup truck slammed into the back of the Envoy at full highway speed -- about 75 miles per hour -- crushing the SUV between the pickup and the bobtail.

Lisa Wilson. Photo via Becker-Dyer-Stanton website.

A man and two women riding in the Envoy were killed instantly, even though, according to a crash report, they were all wearing seat belts.

Police later identified the deceased victims as James W. Wilson, 54, and Lisa R. Wilson, 44, both of Effingham, Kan., and Carol E. Wehking, 75, of Lancaster, Kan.

Two people inside the pick-up truck, who police said are from Iowa, were taken to the hospital.

A crash report says driver John F. Klapp, 71, of Correctionville, Iowa, was not wearing a seat belt and sustained serious injuries, while Christopher J. Klapp, 40, also of Correctionville, was wearing a seat belt and sustained minor injuries.

"When we are driving out here, we need to do one thing and that's pay attention," Sgt. Bill Lowe with Missouri State Highway Patrol said.

Sgt. Lowe said crash investigators have not determined a cause, but distracted driving is suspected. Even as officers were along the highway working this wreck, Lowe said they saw people doing the very thing they believe might have caused it.

Carol Wehking. Photo via Becker-Dyer-Stanton website.

"It's frustrating. And then when you're seeing traffic going by and the drivers are on their cell phones, trying to take pictures, trying to do whatever on their cell phones, that becomes an even more of a big frustration," Lowe explained.

"It makes me sad. I feel so bad for the people that were killed. The only thing I can hope is I hope they didn't suffer, and looking at that car, I doubt if they did," Aring added.

The crash is still under investigation.