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Collision claims 2 lives in Hillsboro

One woman died at the scene of a collision Thursday involving a car and a semi truck at Ash St. and US-56 in Hillsboro, and an injured passenger died Saturday at a Wichita hospital.

The driver of the car, Joyce Smith, 82, of Topeka, and passenger Jean Case, 85, of Marion, were struck by an eastbound semi truck as the car started to make a left turn from the highway onto Ash St., according to the Kansas Highway Patrol.

Smith died at the scene, and Case was airlifted to Wesley Medical Center, where she underwent surgery Thursday. Case died Saturday.

The women were longtime Marion residents and friends. Smith recently moved to Topeka to be near family. Both were active in numerous community groups and activities.

Since 2010, six accidents have occurred at or within a half-mile of the intersection of Indigo Rd./Ash St. and US-56. Three were injury accidents, including Thursday’s double fatality.

KHP investigates accidents involving semi trucks. Marion County Sheriff Robert Craft, whose officers provided support at the scene, is familiar with that stretch of US-56 and prior accidents.

“It’s a tragic thing that it happened,” Craft said. “It’s even more tragic when you know both women involved.”

The KHP report did not cite speed as a factor in the accident, and Craft said average vehicle speeds on US-56 in that area aren’t excessive.

“The speed limit is 65 miles per hour, cars typically go between 63 and 69,” Craft said. “For whatever reason, people sometimes miss seeing an oncoming car.”

Kansas Department of Transportation sets highway speed limits, but Craft said he didn’t know if reducing the speed limit in that area would help.

“KDOT has jurisdiction to reduce speed limits on any stretch of roadway,” Craft said. “Whether that has ever been requested, I can’t tell you. I don’t know what their stance would be. I don’t know whether that would fix it.”

Craft said road awareness is the major factor in staying safe while driving.

“There are all sorts of vehicles using the roadways — cars, trucks, tractors, they’re all out there, so you have to pay close attention to what’s going on around you,” Craft said. “Something can happen so quick and easily.”

Last modified Sept. 11, 2014

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