MERRIAM, Kan. — One person is dead Tuesday after a 7-vehicle crash that turned northbound Interstate 35 into a parking lot for hours.
The crash occurred at about 10:45 a.m., and the traffic turmoil led right up to rush hour. Just before 5 p.m., northbound I-35 reopened.
A chain reaction of sorts was at the heart of this crash. A semitrailer broke down when its tire came off its rim. The truck pulled over to the left shoulder, and that’s when a van hit the semi, sending it into the center lanes of I-35. Five other vehicles were then caught up in the crash.
“A white van struck the rear of that semi and caused a multi-vehicle crash,” Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Candice Brashears said.
Brashears said the semi was too large to allow cars in the left lane to pass, and some of the trailer wasn’t completely off the right-of-way.
“His vehicle was all the way over that he could, but it’s a big vehicle, so he was just partially still in that left lane,” she said.
The driver who was killed has been identified as 31-year-old Jesse S. Miller from Edgerton. Officials said two people were also taken to the hospital with injuries.
In the meantime, traffic on I-35 was backed up for miles. Drivers who got tied up in the fray tried frontage roads, but they crowded up quickly, too.
Kansas Highway Patrol said the investigation is still ongoing.