TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Three school-age children were killed, and two were listed as in serious condition following a Saturday morning crash on the Kansas turnpike.
According to the Kansas Highway Patrol (KHP), the driver of a 2018 Dodge van was going southbound when it attempted to turn through the barrier wall on the turnpike. It was hit from the rear by a 2022 Kenworth semi-tractor trailer.
Laila El Azari, 9, of Topeka, Kylie Lund, 9, of Topeka, and Brooklyn Perry, 8, of Topeka, were killed. Two other children, a 5-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl were in the car at the time. One is suspected to have suffered serious injuries, according to the KHP crash logs.
The following message was sent to all Auburn-Washburn staff and parents Saturday afternoon:
“Dear Auburn-Washburn families and staff,
It is with deep regret that we inform you about a loss to our school community. On Saturday, October 8, three Auburn-Washburn elementary students passed away in an automobile accident. These students include a Jay Shideler Elementary third grader along with two Farley Elementary fourth graders. We are keeping these students and their families in our thoughts. Such a loss raises emotions and questions for our entire school community, especially our students.
Our schools have crisis teams made up of professionals trained to help with the needs of students, parents, and school personnel at difficult times such as this. On Monday morning, Farley Elementary and Jay Shideler Elementary students will be notified in an age-appropriate manner about what occurred. There will be designated areas of support offered to students who need time to process, discuss, or grieve. We will have counselors and social workers available to meet with students and staff members as needed. We encourage you, as parents, to also reach out to our counseling office for assistance if needed.
We are saddened by the loss to our school community and will make every effort to help you and your child in the days ahead.
Dr. Scott McWilliams
Superintendent of Schools”
The 32-year-old female driver of the van, also from Topeka, was taken to a local hospital with possible injuries.
The 70-year-old Alabama truck driver had no apparent injuries, according to the KHP.