Archive for Thursday, March 8, 2001

Fatalities recorded to the east, west

March 8, 2001

It was a weekend that turned fatal both east and west of Baldwin City. Two people died in separate accidents, both on U.S. Highway 56. One of the accidents involved a school bus, but no one was injured aboard it.

Friday, a 42-year-old Williamsburg woman, Debra Jo Plank, was killed in a two-vehicle accident at the junction of U.S. 56 and U.S. 59. Saturday, Robert D. Cronin, a 42-year-old Eudora man, was killed when the S-10 Blazer he was driving collided with a DeSoto school bus in the intersection of U.S. 56 and Eudora Road (County Road 1061).

Both accidents involved stop signs, which were ultimately disregarded. In Friday's accident at the Baldwin Junction, Plank first stopped at the stop sign on west bound U.S. 56, but then proceeded into the intersection where her car broadsided a pickup driven southbound on U.S. 59 by Ryan W. Dickinson, 19, Ottawa, according to Kansas Highway Patrol reports.

In Saturday's accident, Cronin was northbound on Eudora Road, proceeded through the intersection with U.S. 56 and was hit by the eastbound DeSoto bus, according to KHP. The bus was carrying 13 students from DeSoto High School who had been at forensics tournament at Santa Fe Trail High School. None of them, or the driver, were injured.

Brian Craig, Baldwin, a member of the Palmyra Fire Department, was at both accident scenes shortly after they happened. Craig said in both instances it was a matter of obeying a stop sign.

"It's a common thing," said Craig. "At the one out at the junction, she stopped and then went through. At the one out east, he just went through it (the stop sign). The people who live at the corner said he was going too fast, went through the stop sign and the bus smacked him.

"You have to pay attention," he said. "That's the way I look at it. It makes you think about it. We saw the bus go by in Baldwin. I hope people have learned from it to stop. It wasn't a good weekend."

Four people were injured in Friday's accident but were treated and released from area hospitals. They included two passengers in Plank's vehicle, April Plank, her 23-year-old daughter, and Melissa Leighty, 27, Osage City. Dickinson and a passenger in his vehicle, Wendy Dickinson, his mother, no age available, also escaped serious injury.

The only Baldwin connection to either accident was that Plank, killed in the Friday accident, had recently been employed at the Baldwin Care Center.

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