Kansas Turnpike fatal crash truck driver asleep at wheel, manager says
Lawrence The 30-year-old Aurora, Colo., man who died when his tractor-trailer crashed into a Kansas Turnpike toll plaza early Saturday morning appeared to be asleep in photos taken just before the crash, his manager said Tuesday from California.
Sergiy Angelchev had been on the road for his first cross-country trip for Eastern Freight Solutions, a trip that began in California and continued to New York before his fatal collision here on his way back. Angelchev died and a passenger was critically injured when the 2004 Volvo tractor-trailer Angelchev was driving hit the Kansas Turnpike’s eastern terminal exit at highway speeds just before 3 a.m. Saturday.
Angelchev was ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene, and a passenger, Roman Ilyaich, 25 of Aurora, Colo., has been in critical condition at Kansas University Hospital since the crash. According to a Kansas Turnpike Authority accident report, neither man was wearing a seat belt.
Lt. Mark Christesen of the Kansas Highway Patrol said investigators were still looking into the cause of the crash. He said an entire tollbooth would be replaced and work needed to be done on the plaza’s canopy, concrete barricades and electrical equipment.
“The tollbooth got completely smashed,” he said. “It was quite intensive.”
The truck’s cab wrapped around the tollbooth, which is not staffed at that interchange, and its engine landed about 50 yards away. The truck was hauling garden hoses when it crashed and hundreds were strewn across the crash site.
Angelchev’s manager, Val Konan, said Angelchev left from California around March 21 and had driven about 955 miles in two days on the return leg of the trip home when the March 29 accident occurred just before 3 a.m.
Konan said Angelchev was born in Ukraine but had established residency in Colorado, where his parents, a wife and two children also live. The trip was Angelchev’s first for Eastern Freight Solutions, but Konan said Angelchev had worked for several previous trucking companies and that he knew of no prior accidents.
Konan said Ilyaich, meanwhile, was not an employee but a friend of Angelchev’s who had accompanied him on the trip. Konan said that investigators have told him Angelchev appeared to be sleeping at the time of the accident. But turnpike officials and the highway patrol have said the cause of the accident is still being investigated.
The idea that Angelchev may have fallen asleep surprised Konan. Konan said Angelchev had stopped in Tennessee after leaving New York and was driving back to Colorado when the crash occurred. Between driving 955 miles in two days, Konan said, Angelchev “shouldn’t have been tired at all. He was rested.”