Dangerous stretch of 59 Highway claims another life

By Marcus Clem
News Press Now – June 11, 2018

An Atchison man was found dead early Monday morning after his truck was discovered in a ravine near a soybean field between Cummings, Kansas, and US-59 Highway.

Thomas Holland, 66, has been identified as the driver of a pickup truck that left US-59 for unknown reasons, Undersheriff Toby Smith said. A local resident discovered the wrecked vehicle after the incident and informed authorities at about 6 a.m. Monday after the wreck, estimated to have occurred at about 5:45 a.m.

Smith said the matter is under investigation, and Holland’s body has been transported from the crash scene to a morgue in Kansas City to determine a cause of death.

Smith said Holland drove westbound along US-59 in his 2008 GMC Canyon pickup truck at the time of the wreck. The vehicle left the roadway and went southbound about 900 feet through a soybean field. It went across a roadway in Cummings. The pickup rolled several times and landed in a ravine, Smith said. The pickup came to rest in the field atop its wheels, but has been totaled.

Authorities from the sheriff’s office notified Holland’s next of kin and announced him to have been a Holton, Kansas, employee for Johnsonville, LLC, a Wisconsin producer of grillable foods. Holland was on his way to work at the company’s facility, in the 600 block of E. 4th Street in Holton, when the accident occurred.

Cummings is located southwest of Atchison. First responders pronounced the driver dead at the scene, according to a Sheriff’s Office post on social media. No other injuries have been reported.

Wes Lanter, director of the Atchison County Emergency Management office and a volunteer firefighter with the Atchison County Rural Fire District No. 2 based in Effingham, Kansas, said US-59 Highway can be hazardous.

“We have worked multiple, multiple, multiple accidents on that road,” Lanter said, adding that the county government has no jurisdiction on US-59 for improving safety conditions, a responsibility of the Kansas Department of Transportation.

“Lots of injuries and fatalities. It is just a winding stretch of highway,” he added. “With deer, traffic and other hazards, if you’re not careful, these things can happen.”

The incident is the second fatal auto accident to occur in the same roughly 15-mile stretch of US-59 highway in less than a week. On Tuesday, June 5, a 1997 Mercury Cougar driven by Elaine L. Drennon, 55, of Atchison, crossed the center line while heading north on US-59 near the Cargill, Inc. plant in the 15600 block of 258th Street.

The Cougar struck a semi-trailer truck head on, immediately killing Drennon and her passenger, Karen Sue Keil, 54, of Kansas City, Missouri. First responders took the truck driver to a regional hospital with injuries they expected him to survive.


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
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