KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 have opened Friday east of The Legends in Kansas City, Kansas after a fiery crash that police said is deadly and involved two semi-trucks.
Police said one inside lane of westbound I-70 is also open as of 2:30 p.m. Other westbound lanes are still closed for debris removal.
According to the Kansas Highway Patrol, a pickup truck and semitrailer were both traveling east on Interstate 70 just before 8 a.m. when investigators say the pickup truck sideswiped the semi.
This caused the tractor trailer to punch through the center median wall separating east and westbound traffic. Lieutenant Mark Christensen of the Kansas Highway Patrol says crash debris was strewn onto the westbound lanes of the interstate.
The semi slid along the median wall with the cab of the truck actually sticking out into the westbound lanes of traffic. That’s when another semi truck, traveling west and pulling two trailers, struck the cab of the first tractor trailer, ripping the cab off of the rest of the truck and sending debris into a ditch on the northbound side of the highway, where the wreckage of the cab caught fire.
Both directions of I-70 remain shut down, with westbound traffic forced to exit at 78th Street and eastbound traffic exiting at I-435.
Christensen says the eastbound lanes may reopen sometime after 1 p.m. The westbound lanes are likely to remain closed for several more hours.
Troopers say the driver of the westbound truck pulling two trailers died in the crash, but Christensen is not identifying him yet.
Christensen says weather is a factor, with rain falling at the time of the crash, but it’s likely not the only factor. Troopers are investigating whether a driver may be at fault.
The Wyandotte County district attorney has been at the crash scene to help determine if any criminal charges will be filed in this death. Christensen says troopers are still interviewing all drivers involved.
The Kansas Highway Patrol has a chart team recreating the crash and all the distances on paper. Christensen says it’s too early to say whether any driver will be cited or face charges.