LYON COUNTY, Kansas – The Kansas Highway Patrol is releasing more information tonight about the young man killed in Friday’s flooding along the turnpike and why that accident is different from a tragedy in the same area more than a decade ago.
Troopers say Zachary Clark, 21, was driving through heavy rain along a stretch on the Kansas turnpike when his car veered into a flooded ditch.
Another driver then called 911 saying he witnessed the car drive into a ditch near mile marker 118.
AUDIO EXTRA | 911 Calls
First call: 4:58 p.m. (02:24)
Second call: 5:01 p.m. (00:29)
Lyon County Sheriff Jeffrey Cope believes the accident was caused when Clark drove into standing water.
“There was a small amount of water on the roadway that we believe caused the hydroplane,” Cope said. “And the vehicle lost control and went into the ditch where there was 20 feet of water.”
Clark allegedly tried to get out of the car and then drowned in the rushing water, according to authorities.
Not far from the site of Friday’s accident is a monument standing at the Matfield Green service station. The monument remembers a tragedy that happened back in 2003 when a flash flood took the lives of six people.
That situation was different according to Turnpike Trooper Joe Bott.
“Completely different scenarios,” Bott said. “In that scene the water had risen up on the roadway and was pushing against the retaining wall, the median wall. Cars got stuck. People stopped behind them. They couldn’t go forward ‘cause of the water. They couldn’t back up.”
As a result, a woman, her four kids and a man trying to help them all drowned. Only her husband survived.
While the two tragedies played out differently, troopers say drivers always need to keep an eye out for bad weather.
“Any incident is too many when it comes to water standing on the road,” said John Mader, a truck driver stopping to fill up at Matfield Green.” I mean a lot of that’s got to do with drivers not understanding what the situation is or the danger of water on the roadway.”