Kansas Highway Patrol: Tire Blowout in Kansas City Suburb Sent Car over Side of Bridge
SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas troopers say a blown tire caused a car to careen over the side of a bridge in suburban Kansas City, killing a passenger and seriously injuring the driver. The Kansas Highway Patrol says the crash happened Thursday afternoon in Shawnee on Interstate 435. Investigators say a northbound car was on an I-435 bridge when its left rear tire blew, sending the car into the bridge’s right guardrail and over the side. The patrol says the car rolled twice and landed in a creek below. A passenger, 43-year-old Gomez Humberto-Perez of Kansas City, Kansas, was killed. The 24-year-old driver from Overland Park was taken to a hospital with serious injuries.
Restrictions Return in Some Parts of Kansas as Cases Rise
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Officials in some Kansas communities are battling a rise in COVID-19 cases by mandating masks for kids, issuing emergency orders and requiring vaccines. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Kansas has risen over the past two weeks from 605 new cases per day on August 3 to 797 new cases per day on Tuesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. In the Wichita area, hospital status was changed to critical Wednesday, as about 150 COVID-19 patients fill beds there.
Rural Kansas Hospitals at Capacity, Transferring Patients Out of State
LAWRENCE, Kan. (KNS) — Rural hospitals are again struggling to find beds in intensive care units for patients as COVID-19 cases climb. Many rural facilities don’t have intensive care units. Last week, the 25-bed Memorial Health System Hospital in Abilene sent a COVID patient by air ambulance to Wisconsin. His condition was deteriorating and he needed a ventilator. Doctors at the Abilene hospital say they spent hours calling hospitals farther and farther away before finding the bed in Oshkosh. Larger Kansas hospitals have been inundated with transfer requests from as far away as Georgia and Mississippi. Some hospitals in the state say they haven’t been able to hire enough workers to replace people who quit after last winter’s COVID-19 crisis and the shortage of health care workers is compounding the difficulty of handling the delta variant’s rapid surge across the state.
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With No Beds, Hospitals Ship Patients to Far-Off Cities
MISSION, Kan. (AP) _ Many overwhelmed hospitals, with no beds to offer, are putting critically ill COVID-19 patients on planes, helicopters and ambulances and sending them hundreds of miles to far-flung states for treatment.The delta variant of the virus, combined with low vaccination rates in many states, is causing a surge that has hospitals scrambling to find bed space _ even if it means sending patients far away from home. The issue is that large hospitals in urban areas already were full and struggling with staffing problems when the outbreak started. That means they have no free beds to offer to patients from small rural hospitals without ICUs. In some cases, the larger hospitals also are looking to transfer out some of their own patients to relieve the strain.
Douglas County Commission Votes to Require Masks for Children
LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW / KPR) – The Douglas County Commission voted unanimously Wednesday night to require children ages two-to-12 to wear masks in indoor public spaces. The Lawrence Journal World reports that a crowd of about 75 people heckled county officials and repeatedly interrupted the meeting. Most of the people who spoke during the public comment period said they opposed the mask mandate. Some compared pandemic health orders to the Holocaust. Others said requiring children to wear masks could compromise the child’s health and would cause children psychological harm and developmental delays. Health officials say all of those claims are false. Douglas County Health Officer, Dr. Thomas Marcellino, attempted to explain the reasoning for the order but was interrupted by loud jeering from the crowd. He said the objective of the mask requirement was to prevent the transmission of the extremely contagious delta variant and to keep schools open. The county’s order is in effect immediately and will remain in effect until September 22. (Read more.)
Johnson County Sheriff Will Not Require Masks or COVID-19 Vaccinations for Employees
OLATHE, Kan. (KCUR) – The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office has announced that it will not follow the Johnson County Manager’s Office in adopting a new policy requiring county employees to submit to weekly COVID-19 tests if they cannot show proof of vaccination. Sheriff Calvin Hayden says he will leave decisions on face masks and vaccinations up to his 700 employees. About 130 sheriff’s department employees, including Hayden himself, have contracted the disease since the pandemic began but, he said, they all quarantined and followed public health guidelines. Hayden said the department did not have statistics on how many employees were vaccinated, but said it was probably about 50%. County officials estimate the overall rate of vaccination for Johnson County employees is about 46%. County Manager Penny Postoak Ferguson recently issued a new vaccination and testing policy for about 2,700 county employees which goes into effect Monday, August 23. But that directive does not apply to employees of the Sheriff’s Office and the Parks Department who fall outside the county manager’s administrative authority.
Meanwhile in Missouri, the Kansas City Council voted Thursday to extend the city’s mask mandate to September 23.
Universities Offer Incentives to Encourage Vaccinations
LAWRENCE, Kan. (KNS) – Several universities in Kansas are offering cash or prizes for students to get vaccinated against COVID-19. But it’s unclear how effective those incentives might be. A study published recently by the Boston University School of Medicine found that lottery-based incentive programs do not actually increase vaccination rates. Even so, Pittsburg State is giving a $500 scholarship to every student who provides proof of vaccination. Fort Hays State students will get $400. Students at the University of Kansas, Kansas State, and Wichita State are eligible to win prizes ranging from gift cards to free tuition. Kansas State president Richard Myers says about 84% of K-State students have received at least one dose, but only half of faculty and staff are fully vaccinated. Most universities are funding incentive programs with federal COVID-recovery dollars.
Kansas to Pay $2.2 Million in Legal Costs in Child Welfare Lawsuit
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that Kansas must pay more than $2.2 million in attorney fees to the groups that filed a lawsuit over problems in the child welfare system. The decision handed down Thursday also requires the state to pay more than $72,000 in expenses. U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree approved a settlement to the lawsuit in January, but the parties had continued to wrangle over attorney fees and other legal expenses. The class-action lawsuit was filed in 2018 by Kansas Appleseed, Lori Burns-Bucklew, Children’s Rights and the National Center for Youth Law against the Kansas Department for Children and Families and others.
Federal Judge Rejects Settlement for Jose Pepper’s Restaurant Workers
TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) – A federal judge has rejected a proposed $1.75 million settlement to resolve claims by servers at Jose Pepper’s restaurants that they were denied minimum wage and overtime, and were required to work before clocking in. U.S. Magistrate Judge Angel Mitchell did agree to certify the case as a collective action, which means nearly 2,000 current and former servers at the dozen Jose Pepper’s restaurants in Kansas and Missouri may benefit from any settlement she does approve. But the judge said she didn’t have enough information to evaluate whether the settlement agreement adequately compensates the servers. Jose Pepper’s disputed owing any unpaid minimum wage or overtime compensation. It said its payroll data show that servers recorded and received overtime pay. The restaurant was founded in Overland Park in 1988, it has since grown to include 12 locations in the Kansas City area, Topeka and Wichita.
Kansas Congressional Delegation Urges Afghanistan Veterans to Seek Support
TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — As images of the government falling in Afghanistan fill the news, members of Congress from Kansas are urging the soldiers who served there to seek out support and they’re encouraging veterans to connect with their peers. Senators Jerry Moran and Roger Marshall and Representative Sharice Davids are urging Afghanistan military veterans to check-in on each other. In a video posted to Twitter, the senators and congresswoman advised that veterans can find online help at the veteran’s crisis hotline or 1-800-273-8255.
Dog Stabbed in Deadly Lawrence Attack Expected to Recover
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Lawrence Humane Society says that a dog that was stabbed at a grocery store in an attack that killed its owner is expected to recover. The organization said in a social media post that the dog, named Bear, sustained a stab wound to his side early Wednesday in the attack at a Dillons store in Lawrence. The dog’s owner, 66-year-old Daniel Evan Brooks of Lawrence, was killed. The Lawrence Humane Society said that the dog initially was in shock, but his wound had been repaired and his prognosis is good. The suspect, 54-year-old Robert Earl Davis of Lawrence, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of second-degree murder and cruelty to animals. (Read more in the Lawrence Journal-World.)
Five People Arrested in Death of Emporia Man in 2017
EMPORIA, Kan. (AP) — Four people from Kansas and one from Oklahoma have been arrested in the 2017 death of an Emporia man. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation said the five suspects were arrested Wednesday in various locations in Emporia and Tulsa, Oklahoma. They are accused in the Sept. 6., 2017, death of 19-year-old Jesus Avila-Galvin Jr., whose body was found in his burning car in a rural area east of Emporia. The four Kansas suspects are being held in the Lyon County jail and the Oklahoma suspect is jailed in Tulsa County, Oklahoma. The KBI did not say what motivated the killing or what led police to the suspects.
Report: Extreme Heat is Endangering Farm Workers
WASHINGTON, D.C. (HPM / KPR) – A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists says that as summers become increasingly hot due to climate change, farm workers in the Midwest will continue to face dangerous working conditions. The report says workers must often choose between risking their lives in extreme heat of losing significant amounts of their income. The report looked at how workers whose jobs require them to be outside, will fare economically as summertime heat intensifies. It found that if greenhouse gas emissions are not curbed, outdoor workers in the Midwest will continue to be exposed to dangerous conditions and could lose out on billions of dollars in earnings. The report says farm workers are among the most vulnerable to heat related illness and death. The UCS says one of the objectives of the study was to develop information that can be used to prevent workers from having to make that choice. The report recommends that the government impose heat safety standards to protect workers, specifically farm workers, who are among the most vulnerable to heat-related illness and death.
Parents of 3-Year-Old Boy Who Died at Dentist Office Sue
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The parents of a 3-year-old Scott City boy who died after a dental procedure in Wichita have filed a wrongful death lawsuit. Angel Zapata and Nancy Valenzuela filed the lawsuit this week, alleging their son did not receive proper care during a procedure to remove teeth on July 6. The suit names dentist Scott White, nurse-anesthetist Jeremy Salsbury, Tiny Teeth Dentistry and Special Anesthesia Services. The lawsuit says that shortly after the boy received anesthetics, he showed signs of an irregular heart rhythm and inadequate patient ventilation. Emergency responders were called but the boy died at a hospital.
Eudora Man Sentenced for Kidnapping, Robbing Elderly Relatives
LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW / KPR) — A Eudora man has been sentenced to 18 years in prison after being convicted of kidnapping his elderly relatives in a robbery scheme. The Lawrence Journal World reports that 32-year-old Raymond Stilley was sentenced after his conviction on two counts of aggravated robbery. Before agreeing to a plea deal when he was convicted in May, he was also facing charges of kidnapping and mistreatment of an elder. Two of Stilley’s relatives, who are in their 80s, said he broke into their home in July 2020 and demanded money and bank cards from them before taking them hostage. They said he drove them around to ATMs and bank branches in Lawrence and Topeka withdrawing money from their bank accounts. The relatives said they complied because Stilley was threatening them with a gun. After he released them, the elderly relatives reported the incident to the Lawrence Police Department and Stilley was arrested two days later after a reported standoff with Topeka police. He told the court he regretted committing the crimes and blamed the incident on his drug addiction.
Toddler in Car Stolen from Missouri Gas Station Found Safe
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police say a 2-year-old girl who was in a car stolen from a Kansas City, Missouri, gas station has been found safe. Police say the girl was in the back of the car when it was stolen Tuesday evening from a gas station across from Central Park. Police say the girl was found nearly two hours later in Kansas City, Kansas, after a woman called police to say a young child was in her backyard. Police say she was unharmed, and officers in Kansas City, Missouri, drove the mother to her child. The stolen car was found abandoned several blocks away.
Abilene Man’s Body Pulled from River; Death Ruled Accidental
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — The body of an Abilene man who fell into the Smoky Hill River just east of Salina has been recovered, and authorities have ruled his death as accidental. The Saline County Sheriff’s Office says the accident happened around 6:30 pm Monday when a witness reported seeing a man peering over, then tumbling over, the rail of a bridge spanning the river. A search for the man was called off Monday night and resumed Tuesday morning, when the body was found about a quarter-mile downstream from the bridge. Authorities identified the victim as 78-year-old Troy Leatherman.
Body Found in Wichita Alley; 1 Person Questioned by Police
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police are investigating after the body of a man was found in a Wichita alley. Police say officers were called Tuesday afternoon to the area in southeast Wichita after a person walking through the alley behind a business spotted the body. Police say the victim appeared to be a man in his late 20s or early 30s, although police Lt. Krys Henderson said it appeared the body “had been there longer than a day.” Investigators say the victim had suffered some type of trauma to his body. Police say a person was taken into custody, but did not say whether that person was considered a witness or a suspect.
Wichita Man Convicted of Beating Friend to Death with Hands
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 37-year-old Wichita man will be sentenced in November after being convicted of beating a friend to death with his bare hands. Steven Speakman was convicted earlier this month of involuntary manslaughter in the death of 33-year-old Haley Collins, of Bel Aire. Investigators say Speakman and Collins got into an argument that turned physical in the parking lot of a Dillon’s store on August 21, 2019. An affidavit says Collins had refused to give Speakman a ride home. Dillon’s employees who witnessed the fight said Speakman punched Collins, jumped on top of him and hit him several more times. Speakman is scheduled to be sentenced November 1.
Former Junction City Athletic Trainer Sentenced for Sexual Exploitation
JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) _ A former high school athletic trainer in Junction City has been sentenced to two months in a county jail and three years’ probation for sending obscene photos and text messages to an underage student. Television station KSNT reports that 30-year-old Brandon Martino was sentenced Monday in a Geary County courtroom after pleading no contest last month to a single count of sexual exploitation of a child. Martino’s license to serve as an athletic trainer was suspended in July by a state licensing board after an investigation found he had sent sexually explicit text messages and nude images of himself to the student. Martino was suspended from his Junction City High School job following his arrest in January.
Kansas Newspaper Hall of Fame Chooses 4 New Members
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two media executives, a former newspaper owner and a veteran Associated Press correspondent have been chosen for the Kansas Newspaper Hall of Fame. The inductees are former Harris Enterprises CEO Lloyd Ballhagen, veteran AP Wichita Correspondent Roxana Hegeman, former Hillsboro Free Press owner Joel Klaassen and Inland Press Foundation Executive Director Tom Slaughter. They are to be honored during a ceremony October 9 in Newton. Ballhagen was Harris Enterprises CEO and board chairman before his 1997 retirement. Hegeman has been AP’s Wichita correspondent since 1998, and Klaassen founded the Hillsboro Free Press that same year. Slaughter has been with the Inland foundation since 2011 and is a former AP executive.
Some Rural Bankers Worried Drought Will Threaten Operations
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A new monthly survey of bankers in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states suggests continued economic growth in the region, but some say worsening drought could threaten their banks. The overall Rural Mainstreet economic index dropped slightly in August to 65.3 from July’s 65.6. Any score above 50 suggests growth. The survey shows nearly 16% of bankers reported that continuing drought conditions are the greatest threat to banking operations over the next year, while more than 40% of bank CEOs see low farm loan demand as their bank’s greatest challenge over the next year. Bankers from Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.
Topeka Pharmacist Reunited with Class Ring He Lost in 1987
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka pharmacist has been reunited with the class ring he lost in 1987. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Jim Schwartz, owner of King Pharmacy, had his class ring custom-made in 1984. He had attended the University of Kansas for five years while he majored in pharmacy. The $600 ring represented that journey. In 1987, Schwartz put his ring on a metal tray above a bathroom sink while attended a compounding conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He said it was gone when he exited the bathroom stall. Thirty-four years later a a man in Minneapolis left a message on his answering machine. He told Schwartz his ex-girlfriend of three years had purchased the ring at an estate sale.
Minor League Basketball Team to Play in Topeka
TOPEKA, Kan. (TCJ / KPR) — Topeka will soon have a minor-league professional basketball team. The Topeka Capital Journal reports that a new team will start playing in the capital city next year as part of TBL, The Basketball League. The league is headed by former University of Kansas basketball star David Magley. Magley played for KU from 1978 to 1982 and then played for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers during the 1982-83 season. The team will be part of TBL, which has 47 teams around the country. Topeka had a minor league pro basketball team in the 1980s, the Topeka Sizzlers of the Continental Basketball Association. The Sizzlers moved to Yakima, Washington in 1990. The new team does not yet have a name and basketball fans are invited to submit suggestions for names online.
Big 12 Teams Face Forfeits if Virus Keeps Them from Playing
IRVING, Texas (AP) — Big 12 teams will have to forfeit games and be given a loss if unable to play a conference game this fall because of COVID-19. Or any other reason. The Big 12 says a no contest will be declared only if both teams are unable to compete. There are no plans to make up any games not played as scheduled. And there are no longer football roster thresholds in effect like there were last season and allowed teams to seek a no contest.
U.S. Women to Play Four Post-Olympic Matches, Including One in KCK
CHICAGO (AP) — The U.S. women’s national soccer team will play a series of four matches in September and October. The team will play Paraguay in Cleveland on September 16, and again on September 21 in Cincinnati. They’ll also play South Korea on October 21 in Kansas City, Kansas, and on October 26 in St. Paul, Minnesota. The match in St. Paul will be forward Carli Lloyd’s final game with the national team.
These area headlines are curated by KPR news staffers, including J. Schafer, Laura Lorson, Kaye McIntyre and Tom Parkinson. Our headlines are generally posted by 10 am weekdays and by 1 pm on weekends. This news summary is made possible by KPR listener-members. Become one today!
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