Baldwin teen killed in highway accident
When Rudy Sudja was notified Sunday night that his 18-year-old son Cliff had been killed in a two-vehicle accident, he experienced every parents' worst nightmare.
"I always thought that about that worst nightmare when I've seen other parents go through this," said Rudy Sudja. "Now I know. I thought losing my dad was the hardest day of my life, but that wasn't even close compared to this.
"It's just quite a blow for the family," he said. "I just hope and pray no one else has to go through it."
Cliff Sudja was killed at about 7 p.m. Sunday on U.S. Highway 56 near Globe, which is about 6 miles west of the junction with U.S. Highway 59. Sudja was westbound in a 1992 Plymouth when he crossed the center line and struck a trailer being pulled by an eastbound 1990 GMC pickup driven by Robert I. Finley, 43, Eudora, according the Kansas Highway Patrol.
Sudja, 18, a 2003 Baldwin High School graduate, was headed to his home in Overbrook when the accident occurred. Rudy Sudja hasn't seen the accident report yet, but a neighbor who was second on the scene said Cliff Sudja was upright in his car, the air bag had been deployed, but he was dead.
"He died instantly," said Rudy Sudja. "It makes me think he didn't have his seatbelt on and he hit his head on the dash or windshield or something and it probably broke his neck."
Funeral services for Cliff Sudja will be at 11 a.m. Friday at the First Christian Church of Centropolis. Visitation will be from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at Lamb-Roberts Funeral Home in Baldwin City. A complete obituary is on page 7.
Cliff Sudja had many friends and they are trying to come to grips with his death. Several declined to comment, but others wanted him to be remembered.
"We most definitely will miss him," said Jordan Schaecher, who graduated with Sudja from BHS last spring. "Cliff had no enemies. Everybody liked Cliff. It's going to be different without him around."