Baker student seriously injured in Sunday wreck
Molly Larson, the 20-year-old Baker University student injured in a rollover accident Sunday, was in serious condition in a Kansas City-area hospital Wednesday, according to Baker Spokesman Steve Rottinghaus.
Larson, from Vancouver, Wash,, was flown to the hospital in critical condition after the rollover wreck Sunday afternoon two miles southeast of Lawrence.
Rottinghaus said a three-hour prayer vigil held for Larson at the Osborne Chapel Tuesday evening was well attended.
"There were times the chapel was filled during the service," said Rottinghaus.
Lt. Kari Wempe, a Douglas County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman, said Larson was headed north on County Road 1055 at 12:30 p.m. Sunday when she veered off the east edge of the road. She tried to pull her vehicle back onto the road but lost control.
"It appears there was some overcorrection, which caused the vehicle to roll several times," Wempe said.
Witnesses said the white Nissan Pathfinder with a Washington state license plate ended up on its wheels in a ditch on the western side of the road facing south, although vehicle parts were strewn across the road.
Sheriff's investigators said Tuesday that speed appeared to be a factor. Two witnesses reported that Larson appeared to be driving 70 to 75 mph when she passed them minutes before they came across the accident. The speed limit on the road is 55 mph.
The accident happened about two miles south of 31st Street and Haskell Avenue.
Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical workers extricated Larson from the vehicle. A helicopter ambulance then flew her to Kansas University Hospital in Kansas City, Kan.
Larry Caldwell, who lives at 1143 E. 1500 Road, was playing with his grandchildren in his backyard when he heard the wreck. The vehicle ended up in the ditch just feet away from a brick wall on his property.
He said the driver appeared bloodied and badly injured, and the vehicle was heavily damaged.
"It kind of puts a lump in your throat when you walk around from in the back of your house and see something like that," Caldwell said.
He said the driver had her seat belt on. By the time he ran into his house to call 911, a driver in a separate vehicle had already made the call.
Caldwell has lived at that address for about five years. He's seen a half-dozen serious wrecks on the stretch of road, although Sunday's appeared to be the most serious, he said.
He said he didn't know specifically what happened with Sunday's wreck, but that for several years he's thought generally that people drive too fast for the 55 mph speed limit.
"It's kind of getting out of control, and you hate to walk out and see people wrecking in front of your place," he said.