MANHATTAN, Kan. — A snowplow struck and killed two pedestrians in Kansas before sunrise Friday after a winter storm coated parts of the Midwest with snow.
The collision involving a Riley County plow truck happened shortly after 5 a.m., after the National Weather Service issued winter weather advisories across parts of Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin and a large swath of Missouri.
The Kansas Highway Patrol said Stephen Toler, 22, and Jayden Rosa, 20, both of Manhattan, were walking in a lane of U.S. 24 when they were hit by the snowplow north of Kansas State University and near Tuttle Creek State Park.
Trooper Ben Gardner said the driver, Lawrence Gassmann, 65, of Manhattan tried to avoid hitting the victims. He said Gassmann wasn't plowing or salting at the time and that he was driving with the plow's blade raised. He said he didn't know whether it was snowing but that road conditions and speed didn't appear to be a factor in the collision.
Kansas State spokeswoman Michelle Geering said neither Toler nor Rosa were students at the university.
Marvin Rodriguez, chairman of the Riley County Commission, described the accident as a “tremendous tragedy."
“Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to all involved in the accident,” he said in a news release.
In neighboring Missouri, roads in much of the north of the state are covered in snow. The Missouri Department of Transportation urged drivers in a news release to “remain vigilant.”
The University of Missouri's flagship campus in Columbia and Lincoln University in Jefferson City announced a late start and then called off classes entirely.
Numerous school districts canceled classes, including several in the Kansas City area.
Interview with KSNT at fatal crash scene https://t.co/psZZFYt1BY
— Trooper Ben (@TrooperBenKHP) January 24, 2020