by Valerie Verkamp
Following a six vehicle collision on Interstate 29 north of Platte City, two semi drivers and three additional motorists were transported to hospitals suffering various degrees of injuries.
During Monday's rush hour traffic at around 5:30 p.m., vehicles began to slow in the northbound lanes of Interstate 29 about four miles north of Platte City “due to construction and rush hour,” according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Early investigative reports suggest a 2014 Freightliner driven by Robert Sanko, 45, of Topeka, Ks. continued at a highway speed and crashed into the rear of a 2004 Volkswagen operated by Jerry Wofford, 65, of Topeka, Ks.
After striking the Volkswagen and propelling it off the right side of the roadway, Sanko’s semi crashed into a 2004 GMC Sierra driven by Robert Dixon, 42, of Kansas City. Dixon’s pickup was forced into the median before coming to a stop.
According to the Missouri Highway Patrol in Platte County, the accident didn't stop there. Sanko, assumingly unable to gain control over the Freightliner, collided with three additional vehicles, including a 2009 Acura driven by Debra Nichols, 55, of St. Joseph; a 2001 Kenworth operated by Willie Mcintosh, 53, of Mount Grove, Mo.; and a 2013 Ford F350 driven by Richard Fox, 43, of Iowa, before coming to a complete stop on the right side of Interstate 29.
Nichols and Mcintosh were transported by ambulance to the Heartland Regional Medical Center in St. Joseph. According to the report, both suffered minor injuries.
Dixon, who also suffered minor injuries, was transported by NRAD to the North Kansas City Hospital.
Wofford, the driver of the vehicle first struck by the semi, was immediately transported to the Heartland Regional. He is listed as sustaining serious injury.
Sanko was taken to the North Kansas City Hospital. His condition is listed as moderate.
Sgt. DJ Hedrick of the Missouri State Highway Patrol in Platte County told The Landmark Tuesday morning that two of the drivers--believed to be Sanko and Wofford--had suffered injuries initially described as critical.
Fox, the driver of the final vehicle that was hit in the crash, was not hurt and his pickup was able to be driven from the scene.
According to Hedrick, northbound Interstate 29 between Tracy and Camden Point was shut down until well after midnight to allow law enforcement to conduct a full investigation into the cause of the accident, as well as to clean up several hundred yards of crash debris that littered the interstate and the median. Video taken of the scene by television helicopters showed a scene resembling a disaster area.
Northbound traffic was rerouted off of I-29 at the Tracy exit, over to Hwy. 371, then about five miles north to Camden Point where motorists could get back on I-29.