Trooper recuperating after accident
By MIKE CORN
RUSSELL -- Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Doug Shearer soon will be returning to work, not long after his patrol cruiser was broadsided while he was on routine patrol on Interstate 70.
Shearer, 49, briefly was hospitalized at Russell Regional Hospital following a Friday afternoon accident approximately 5 miles west of Russell. He was the only person injured in the accident.
According to the KHP, the eastbound Shearer was making a U-turn on I-70 and had pulled into the median.
Apparently, a number of vehicles were in the passing lane behind Shearer, and the one immediately behind his cruiser put on his brakes.
A second car following in the passing lane didn't know what was happening and swerved into the median to avoid hitting the car in front of him, said KHP spokesman Trooper Tod Hileman.
That car, driven by 45-year-old Larry P. Delozier, Wichita, struck Shearer's 2012 Charger broadside.
While the accident remains under investigation by a Russell County-based trooper, Hileman said accidents have been responsible for six of the 10 troopers who have died in the line of duty.
That's why he's quick to point out vehicles -- especially those traveling at a high rate of speed on highways -- need to maintain an adequate distance from the car in front of them.
Hileman said motorists should maintain at least 2 seconds between vehicles.
Three seconds would be better, he said.
State law still requires a car length between vehicles for every 10 mph of travel.
Shearer's accident is the second one involving patrol cruisers recently. KHP Trooper Bill Poland's vehicle was struck recently at an intersection. Poland was not injured in that accident.
"Getting behind the wheel of a car for me and everyone is the most dangerous thing you're going to do on a daily basis," Hileman said he tells people when asked to talk about highway safety.
And while fatalities had shown a trend of declining, that's changed.
"I do know that this year, for some reason, we're going back up," Hileman said of fatalities.