Racing leads to highway crash
Connie Weber was looking out her mother’s window Saturday at Hillsboro Community Hospital when she saw it.
Two drivers, both of them athletes at Tabor College, were racing north on Industrial Rd. toward US-56, something Hillsboro residents complained about earlier in the day. This time, the racers realized too late that a Dodge Ram was crossing in front of them on the highway.
The resulting accident was severe. The truck, driven by Matthew W. Bishop, 31, Moundridge, who was taken to Via Christi – St. Francis Hospital in Wichita, ended up heavily damaged and lying on its side in a ditch.
One of the racing vehicles was a Dodge Charger driven by Abigail D. Schmidt, 18, Caldwell, a freshman forward on Tabor’s basketball team. The Charger also was heavily damaged. It had a smashed hood and front fender and a wheel out of place. The car spun 180 degrees from the direction it came. Schmidt later was taken to HCH by a private vehicle.
The other racer, Zachary A. Aldrete, 18, of Welasco, Texas, fled the scene, according to police reports. Aldrete, a freshman on Tabor’s golf team, had Marco A. Espinal, 18, of Cedar Creek, Texas, as a passenger in the vehicle, according to the reports.
Witness Connie Weber notified police, then confronted racer Abigail Schmidt.
“This is irresponsible and there is no excuse,” Weber said. “I asked, ‘Where is the other driver?’ Because they left.”
Despite avoiding the collision, Aldrete shouldn’t have left the scene, Hillsboro police officer Randy Brazil said.
“You have a duty to render aid if you witness an accident like that,” he said. “You have a duty to do that as a motorist, and that didn’t happen. His vehicle wasn’t damaged in the accident, and he didn’t have any contact, but it was a contributing factor because of the racing.”
Police identified Aldrete and made contact after the accident.
The case remains under investigation with no charges yet filed.
Having a witness was helpful in confirming evidence and the accounts from both drivers involved, Brazil said.
Brazil admitted wanting to know what Schmidt’s motivation for racing was.
“Absolutely, you ask those questions,” he said. “What were you thinking? Why were you doing that? That came out in the investigation.”
Weber was frustrated with the racers, but also understood how difficult the aftermath must have been for Schmidt.
“I feel bad for her, too, because her conscience is going to feel really bad now,” Weber said.
Part of Weber’s frustration was because she knew the accident could have happened to anyone, including family members who arrived shortly after.
“There absolutely is no excuse for racing, especially when you just get back to town and don’t know the streets,” she said.
The Charger driven by Schmidt was owned by Daniel W. Schmidt of Caldwell, according to accident reports.