Archive for Thursday, April 22, 2004

Truck driver charged after accident killed BU student

April 22, 2004

The Texas semi-tractor trailer driver involved in last week's fatal accident on U.S. Highway 56 was charged last week with manslaughter and driving under the influence.

Bond was set at $150,000 for Yan R. McHenry, 46, Dallas. McHenry was on parole from a cocaine conviction in the early 1990s. He was paroled from his 99 year sentence in 2001.

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The accident last Tuesday on east U.S. 56 near Country Road 1900, killed 19-year-old Baker University freshman Shawn Trager, from Chillocothe, Mo. His 20-year-old brother, Aaron Trager, a Baker sophomore, and the driver of the car, Andy Potts, a 21-year-old sophomore from Richmond, were treated and released following the accident. All three played football at Baker.

McHenry faces five counts: one count of involuntary manslaughter; three counts of aggravated battery; and one count of driving under the influence. Assistant District Attorney Brandon Jones cited the severity of the charges and McHenry's possible flight risk when asking for the bond.

"We feel that he is a threat to the community," Jones said during McHenry's first appearance in court on Thursday. "He's alleged to have taken the life of an innocent young man while driving under the influence."

At McHenry's second court appearance Tuesday, a preliminary hearing on the charges was set for May 13. He remains jailed on the same bond.

According to the Kansas Highway Patrol, Potts was driving his car westbound on U.S. 56, slowed to turn off the highway, was hit from behind by McHenry's westbound semi, which sent it into the path of an eastbound van driven by Baldwin resident Ron Nelson. Nelson, 57, the longtime voice of the Maple Leaf Festival, was also treated and released following the accident.

The Baker community was gripped with grief following the news of Trager's death and a memorial service was held last Tuesday night. The Baker chapel was filled with students and staff mourning his death. Although a week has passed, the mourning continues and all is not back to normal on campus.

"No, it's not over. It's going to take a long time," said the Rev. Ira DeSpain, Baker minister. "We're still coping the best we can. It's very difficult for a lot of people."

Trager's funeral was Saturday in Chillocothe. Baker President Dan Lambert, his wife, Carolyn, athletic director Dan Harris, the Baker football team and coaches and a large contingent of Baker students attended.

"It was a large turnout," said DeSpain.

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