by Ivan Foley
What started as a call to report a suicidal man ended with a fiery crash at a busy Platte City intersection.
Despite the frightening images at the scene, injuries were minor, a fact police attribute to modern day air bags and other safety improvements in today’s vehicles.
Shortly after 9 a.m. Thursday morning, Platte City police officers were responding to Maple Drive on a report of a man acting suicidal.
Platte City Police Lt. Al DeValkenaere said as he and Chief Carl Mitchell headed to the Maple Drive area to back up officers headed that way, they instead ended up heading to the scene of the accident at the intersection of Hwy. 92 and Prairie View/Running Horse Road, with Central Platte Fire Department and Northland Regional Ambulance District.
Initially, authorities at the scene of the crash had no idea the accident involved the man who minutes earlier had been reported as suicidal. The man had fled his residence on Maple Drive in a blue General Motors pickup.
“He was headed eastbound on Hwy. 92. He went around traffic that was stopped at the light and had a near head-on collision with a white Ford pickup truck that was turning from westbound Hwy. 92 to southbound Running Horse,” said DeValkenaere.
The impact forced the white Ford pickup into a collision with a Tahoe. The Ford truck spun around and was facing eastbound after the impact. Initial impact occurred in the middle of the intersection.
The Ford truck eventually burst into flames. The 29-year-old man from the residence on Maple Drive, identified as Jason K. Lawrence, has yet to be charged, as the investigation is continuing.
Sgt. Jerin Almond with the Platte County Sheriff’s Department said authorities are awaiting results of lab work before determining what charges could be filed.
DeValkenaere said he reached in to cut away the side curtain airbag in the blue GM truck that Lawrence was driving. At the time, DeValkenaere had not yet received word the man in the truck was the same one who had been the subject of the earlier call.
“When I started cutting the side curtain airbag away I was looking into the barrel of a shotgun, which was laying against his right knee. It was a single shot shotgun with a round in the chamber with the hammer cocked. It’s amazing it didn’t go off in the collision,” DeValkenaere remarked.
“As I grabbed the shotgun I also grabbed his hand so he wouldn’t be able to reach for the gun,” DeValkenaere said.
The driver of the white pickup was able to exit the vehicle before it caught fire. He was treated for minor injuries and released the same day. The driver of the Tahoe, a female, was not injured.
Lawrence was transported for treatment of minor injuries and was held for psychological evaluation, DeValkenaere said. DeValkenaere said he believes it was Lawrence’s spouse who had made the initial call to report the man had threatened suicide.
DeValkenaere said the crash team from the sheriff’s department took the report and reconstructed the accident scene.