Dust storm causes fatal crash

Great Bend Tribune – April 29, 2014

Blowing dust from fields caused conditions that resulted in a fatal accident on U.S. 56 shortly after 4 p.m. Monday afternoon.  The Kansas Highway Patrol reported Brandon H. Stein, 30, of Great Bend sustained injuries resulting in death after his 2007 Cadillac Escalade collided with the trailer of a semi driven by Michael D. Donovan, 54, of Larned.  Donovan was stopped in the eastbound lane of U.S. 56 mile marker 195.9, about seven miles west of Great Bend, straddling the fog line due to visibility being reduced by blowing dirt and other accidents.  Stein was not wearing a safety restraint.
Responders reported zero visibility in the area as they attempted to reach the scene of the accident.  The poor conditions prompted authorities to close U.S. 56 from Great Bend to Pawnee Rock around 4:30 p.m. on Monday.   
Another two-vehicle accident with unknown injuries was reported a short time later at SW 40 Road and SW 70 Ave.
Visibility was near zero and three ambulances were out in the county at 4:37 p.m. 
A Code Red (critical) patient was reported in an SUV.  It is unknown if this was Stein or another accident victim.  The poor visibility also hindered responders, as they tried to skirt around the worst of the storm and approach from the west by West Barton County Road (10th Street).  But responders advised zero visibility on Barton County Road.  About the same time, West Barton County Road was closed at 10th and Patton Road.  
A Barton County Sheriff’s Office deputy was involved in one of multiple vehicular accidents.
Visibility was also a factor for EMS transport once they arrived on the scene.  While one Code Green (not life threatening) patient was reported en route to Great Bend Regional at 4:58 p.m., others waited for roadways to be cleared and visibility to improve.  
At 5:08 p.m. scanner traffic reported two Code Green patients required transport to Great Bend Regional Hospital.   
At 5:29 p.m. two Code Red patients were being transported. It is not known if the Code Green patients’ conditions had been downgraded or if these were different patients.  The ambulance requested an officer keep the north shoulder clear so it could back out heading west.  
Pawnee Rock Fire Department responded, and once they were cleared from the scene, they began a check of gravel roads in the area.
Meanwhile, tin blew off a Great Bend Co-op roof on South Main Street in Great Bend, falling onto the railroad tracks and obstructing the roadway.  It was removed within minutes.  Temperature was 56 degrees Fahrenheit; wind speed was 41 mph with gusts to 54. 
At 5:36 p.m., another traumatic accident was reported on K-96, requiring transport.  EMS transport was able to respond quickly.  

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster