Thursday, September 29, 2016

Didn't have a scratch on him

My name is Steven Moody and I was a paramedic in Salina for 28 years and am currently the Fire Chief in El Dorado. The experience I’d like to share happened during my early years in Salina. I was called to a one-vehicle crash involving a rural mail carrier who I’ll refer to as Bob (not his real name). I rode with him in the ambulance and he conveyed to me how the crash occurred before he lost consciousness. And I’d like to share Bob’s story and mine … 

Houses in rural central Kansas are sometimes far and in between. So, it gave Bob the chance to do a bit of mail sorting while driving from one house to the next.

And that was what Bob was doing this particular day. 

Like many Kansas roads, this one was loose sand and gravel. And, the terrain was as flat as a pancake – one could see as far as one’s sight would allow. 

Bob was sorting his mail as he drove along the desolate road. No problem, or so he thought.  But, in the blink of an eye the right front tire drifted into the loose gravel.  The car was immediately pulled towards the ditch.

In response Bob quickly turned the steering wheel to the left in an effort to bring the car back from the ditch. Regrettably, when Bob did this instead of pulling the car back onto the roadway it tilted the car. 

And it didn’t stop there. The car kept tilting until it rolled completely onto its top. 

Another unfortunate thing was Bob’s lack of seat belt usage. As the car rolled onto its top, Bob came out of his seat and slammed his head forward when it struck the inside of the rooftop.

As the medic in charge, I walked up to the side of the vehicle and asked Bob if he was hurt. Bob’s response back was, “I can’t feel anything.” 

Bob didn’t have a scratch on him, but his injury was serious. He had broken his neck.  Bob was taken to the hospital, but sadly he did not survive his injury. 

Bob had violated two driving operator rules – he had been inattentive and he failed to use his seat belt.

Learn the lessons from Bob. You can be killed with just the right mechanism of injury.  Follow all the safety rules knowing your life could depend upon it.   


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

We should be making memories

By Sheri Baker-Bruster  

December 20, 2001.  I was 21 at the time. I was a full-time college student, worked part time, lived with my parents, and was planning a wedding for July. 
I have two brothers and an older half-sister and half-brother. My parents - Frank and Debbie - had just celebrated their 24th anniversary in November. My dad was 51 and was the wastewater Supervisor for the City of Wellington. He had worked there for almost 30 years.
I never thought for a moment that my life could be so drastically changed by someone else’s decision that I had no control over. We were on our way home about a mile north of Wellington when a car driving northbound crossed the center line and hit our car head-on.  The crash caused many traumatic injuries. I had several broken bones which left me in the hospital for eight weeks and required months of physical and occupational therapy. 
My dad fought for 32 hours after the crash, but in the end lost the battle and died from his injuries.  Christmas is supposed to be a time to spend with your family, not meeting with a funeral director and planning a funeral. I was not able to attend the funeral because I was in the hospital and did not fully understand what had happened or that my dad had died until six weeks after the wreck. 
The other driver that caused the wreck had been drinking at a local bar.  At the time of the wreck his BAC was .30 and he died at the scene when he was ejected from his vehicle. The car he was driving was torn into three pieces. 
I have had numerous surgeries and will have to have more. I did get married seven months after the wreck. Chris has been through all of this with me. Chris and I have two children: Ayden who is 9 and Gates who is 5, and they keep us busy. I talk about the wreck and my dad with Ayden and Gates. They should be making memories with my dad instead of me sharing memories of my dad with them.   
I would have never imagined that in a split second my life could be completely changed by a man who chose to drink and drive. This is something completely preventable.  
It has been 14 years and not a day goes by that I don’t think about my dad and the wreck. 
Sheri Baker-Bruster is a volunteer for the Kansas DUI Impact Center and was the Volunteer of the Year for 2016

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Couldn't stop in time

By Mallory Goeke 

“Mom, I was hit by a car!”
I will always remember June 4, 1999. I was 11 and riding my bike was my ticket to freedom. My hometown of Cimarron was small enough that I could bike wherever I wanted as long as I was home by dark.
I had been cruising down a large street on my way home from the pool. For a hyper kid like me, coasting downhill at top speed made me feel invincible. I made the decision to skip my normal route home in lieu of continuing my exhilarating ride. As I reached the bottom of the hill, I turned quickly into an empty parking lot, performed a few fun tricks and figure 8’s, then I zipped out to go up the large hill again.
I wasn’t invincible.
The next scene plays out in slow motion: I saw the red car headed for me, but it was too late. I froze. I had been going so fast out of the parking lot that I couldn’t stop in time. Neither could the driver behind the wheel.
I felt the sickening crunch of the fender hitting my bike tire which sent me flying into the air and onto the windshield. I can still see the terrified expressions of the boys who hit me. I wonder if they still remember mine?
I remember rolling off the windshield and landing on my knees. I was in shock. My face hurt and I remember feeling that my two front teeth had been chipped right down the center. My knees were scrapped up and I was shaking like an earthquake. I had just been hit by a car. How did that happen?
I can’t completely blame the driver who hit me, nor can I completely place all the blame on myself. The fact of the matter is anyone who is riding a bike should be doubly aware of their surroundings before zipping out of parking lots, driveways or intersecting streets.
At the same time, drivers need to constantly be on the lookout for bikers and pedestrians, especially children who dart out into the streets without looking. It can happen in an instant and lives can be forever changed or ended due to carelessness and distracted driving. Just because you are seen, doesn’t mean there is enough time to get out of the way or stop.
I was so lucky. I walked away with a scraped knee, a chipped tooth and a fear of driving in traffic that has stayed with me ever since that day, but I was alive. Not everyone lives to tell their story.
Mallory Goeke is a Communication Specialist in KDOT’s Office of Public Affairs

Monday, September 26, 2016

In the blink of an eye

Kendall Schoenekase, Miss Kansas
Photo credit - Kristy Belcher Photography
By Kendall Schoenekase 

     Two years ago, I was a victim in a car crash caused by texting and driving. I am not alone. Every year, over 4,000 teens are killed, and another 438,000 people are injured in crashes that are preventable. In an age where technology provides a variety of mobile devices, we are facing epidemic acts of negligence behind the wheel.
     The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has determined driving while texting is six times more dangerous than drunk driving. In fact, five seconds is the average time eyes are taken off the road when texting. At 55 miles per hour, it’s enough time to cover the length of a football field, virtually blindfolded, according to With 660,000 drivers manipulating electronic devices while behind the wheel at any given moment, the life of every individual on, or around our roads can be impacted in an instant.
     My first-hand experience was not a tragic one, rather, it was an eye-opening moment, proving to me that NO ONE is safe when a driver is texting. A crash can happen at ANY moment, to ANY person. Just to lay it all out on the table, I, too, used to give into the temptation of technology, using my phone while driving. But I had to learn the hard way, experiencing how in the blink of an eye my life could have been stripped away.
     I pledged that day to never pick up my phone while behind the wheel again. In addition, I made it a personal mission to educate others on the dangers of such actions so they don’t have to learn the hard way. Not only did I experience this first hand as a victim, I relive those moments frequently as a registered nurse, often providing medical care to others hospitalized due to texting and driving crashes.
     As a survivor, a driver and a compassionate nurse, I am taking action to change these statistics and save lives. I am committed to defeating the most dangerous distraction that drivers face today with my three-step action plan - Educate, Engage, Legislate: The Kansan’s Care Campaign. Through the Kansans Care Campaign and my three-step action plan, I will continue to reach thousands around the country.
     Too many people have been affected by texting and driving. It is crucial for people of all ages to understand the risks, dangers, and consequences of their actions in order to change attitudes and behaviors regarding texting while driving.
Kendall Schoenekase was named Miss Kansas 2016 on June 11

Friday, September 23, 2016

Don't Text #Just Drive

We are including the information below as one of our safety blogs - this important initiative just began and is focused on reducing texting and driving. We hope you join this vital safety effort as well as participate in this spirited competition between Kansas universities. A video news conference featuring state, business and university student leaders speaking on Don’t Text #Just Drive is available at

 Pledge contest focuses on no texting while driving
Kansas Commissioner of Insurance Ken Selzer, center, and other officials
speak at a news conference kicking off the Don't Text #Just Drive campaign.

Students and supporters of seven Kansas universities can advocate for friendly competition this fall while challenging themselves and others to stop texting and driving.

The Kansas Insurance Department, insurance companies and governmental sponsors have created the “Don’t Text #Just Drive” campaign to get university students and supporters to pledge to stop texting while driving.  “We think this is a great way to promote a worthy goal of saving lives,” said Ken Selzer, CPA, Kansas Commissioner of Insurance. “You pledge to not text and drive, you pick your school and you cast your vote. Alumni, supporters and students of these Kansas schools show their support for the campaign and participate in a friendly competition at the same time.”

Supporters of each participating university will be able to take the pledge two ways: Online or by text messaging. The number of pledges each school receives will be compared to its official fall 2016 enrollment to calculate a percentage. Results will be tabulated and the winner announced during university athletic contests this fall and winter.

Participating schools are - University of Kansas, Kansas State University, Wichita State University, Fort Hays State University, Pittsburg State University, Washburn University and Emporia State University.

Voting began this week and ends Nov. 22. Pledge votes can be cast by texting 50555 and choosing one of the school keywords: KU, Wildcat, Shocker, Tiger, Gorilla, Ichabod, or Hornet. Voters can also go online at More information about the campaign can be found at

Kendall Schoenekase, Miss Kansas 2016, is promoting the campaign as well. She has chosen “Stay Alive, Don’t Text and Drive” as her campaign issue during her reign as Miss Kansas. (Kendall is also participating in the safety blog series and will be featured next Monday, Sept. 26.)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

On the other end of the radio

By Nicole Ascher
     One calm night, while working in the Kansas Highway Patrol dispatch center, we received a call from OnStar advising of a crash that just occurred involving a semi and a van.  A young mother who was not wearing her seat belt was distracted by talking on her cell phone. 
     She went left of center, left the roadway, went across the median and struck a semi.  It took troopers 20 minutes to arrive and they advised of one confirmed fatality.  It took another 20 minutes for the troopers to give a tag and ask for dispatch to locate a driver’s license photo for identification purposes. 
     Just as we pulled up the photo, the victim’s mother called in and advised that her daughter’s husband called her, and told her he was on the phone with the victim when she screamed and the cell phone disconnected. Once the family heard about the accident on the interstate, the victim’s mother and young child insisted on responding to the scene, to make sure her daughter was okay. The dispatcher told the mother to take the child home and she would have a trooper respond to her house to let her know what happened. Troopers were busy working the scene so dispatch attempted to get a chaplain to go to the mother’s residence. 
     The mother called the Kansas Highway Patrol dispatch center multiple times and the husband called the local dispatch multiple times.  An hour later, troopers were able to identify the victim from the driver’s license photo and responded with the chaplain to notify her mother and husband.  We do our very best to calm our callers and let them know that help is on the way. The dispatcher thought of her mom and wanted to tell her over the phone. 
     Death is one of the hardest things to deal with and families deserve to be treated with respect, passion, and professional comfort. Our hope is to give a victim’s family the gift of having someone to hold on to, or to make a phone call for someone who can come to the home and provide emotional support. During times like this, dispatchers feel helpless. Without visual information from the scene, we are left to our own imagination in an attempt to figure out what happened. Our main focus is helping people.  We do this as a team and help our fellow dispatchers when they are busy. An incident like this will stick with the dispatchers for several days. 
     Dispatchers experience trauma indirectly and with a high level of distress during and following an incident like this. One of the hardest things about being a dispatcher is the lack of closure and not knowing what happens after calls are dispatched.  At times this is a thankless job, but at the end of the day…you know you did your best and it is worth it.
Nicole Ascher is a Communication Specialist Supervisor with the Kansas Highway Patrol

To read more stories about the importance of safety check out our Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day blog:

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Trauma in the corn fields

John LaGesse, a former BNSF conductor, shares this story told to him by a co-worker from a few years ago.

     On a bright, late-summer day, a local train was rolling down the tracks near Topeka, Kansas, in between two tall corn fields. This time of the year, the corn is very tall, perhaps 10 feet or more, so for a train crew it was like being in a tunnel where your vision is very limited.
     The train approached a farmer’s crossing – a private crossing that farmers use to get from one field to another. At private crossings, trains are not required to sound their whistles. The train was about 250 feet from the crossing, when suddenly a small pack of dogs runs across the track. This grabs the crew’s attention; something unusual is going on. Suddenly, a small girl on a tricycle appears pedaling across the tracks. Everyone in the cab gasps, but she is almost across the tracks when the rear wheel of the tricycle falls between the tracks and the planks and she is stuck.   
     Now, action in the cab explodes. The engineer places the train into emergency and blasts on his whistle. The brakeman runs out the front door of the cab onto the deck screaming at the girl to run. After a couple of seconds, she frees her tricycle and pedals off the tracks. The brakeman watches her pedal into the clear and then his head snaps to the left to see where she had come from. Now in slow motion, as his brain had sped up due to the adrenaline in his system, he sees a car sitting near the tracks with a woman at the wheel whose eyes were as big as saucers and she was obviously screaming.  But, more profoundly, next to her in the front seat is a child carrier with an infant in it and the infant’s mouth seemed huge as it was screaming as well, terrified by its mothers cries.
     The train finally slides to a stop, well past the crossing. There was no way they would have stopped in time. The brakeman sits down and is shaking so badly, he cannot light his cigarette. As a finale, the engineer walks out the back door of the engine onto the catwalk and vomits.
     No one was physically injured in this incident, but the trauma for all involved would last for a lifetime. This is why crossing safety is so important. Saving lives is just part of it –  preventing life-changing, horrible events is another.

To read more stories about the importance of safety check out our Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day blog: