Five people were killed in crashes when a deadly snowstorm swept through Kansas on Friday. One was a former Dickinson County man and another was a 19-year-old killed in Dickinson County.
Jory Konrade 46, formerly of Abilene, was a teacher and football coach at Prairie Hills Middle School and was killed Friday morning in Reno County
A slick bridge was blamed for the fatal crash.
The Kansas Highway Patrol reported Konrade was driving south on K-61 in a 2005 Dodge Ram 1500 at 7:38 a.m. when he lost control of his truck on the bridge over Medora Road and collided with a semi. Konrade died at the scene.
“This is a rough day,” said Buhler superintendent Mike Berblinger. “He was well-liked by everybody. He touched so many lives as a teacher and a coach.
“He was just one of the most awesome human beings, just a great member of our team.”
Art teacher, coach
Konrade had worked for the district for 19 years as an art teacher.
“Jory had connections with most of the students in our district in middle school and high school, which really ramped things up,” said Prairie Hills principal Todd Fredrickson. “He was just a great guy, well respected by everyone in the building.”
Teaching seventh- and eighth-grade students, which can sometimes be a challenge, was not difficult for Konrade, the principal said.
“He was so good, very patient,” Fredrickson said. “He was just kind of calm. If something crazy was going on, he was the calm in the storm. We’re going to miss him, but miss that as well.”
Konrade was also a successful football coach, Fredrickson said, with his team winning the league title in nine of the last 10 years.
“He just had it rolling,” the principal said. “He did a great job with the kids and was very successful.”
Konrade started his teaching career in Salina, but joined Prairie Hills after his family moved to McPherson County. The family lives in Inman.
When Konrade didn’t show up for school Friday morning, the school attempted to reach him, finally learning of the crash through his wife.
“That’s where a lot of my thoughts are, with Tamara and the family, knowing how difficult this must be,” Berblinger said.
Several students and teachers left school for the day Friday morning after learning of the death, though most remained “to support each other,” Berblinger said.
A school concert planned for Friday night was canceled and will be rescheduled. Basketball practice was also canceled.
Counselors were provided at Prairie Hills Middle School and at Buhler High School to help students and staff. Some will probably return Monday, Berblinger said. Besides the district’s grief counselors, others came from the Hutchinson and Haven school districts, as well as the Reno County Education Cooperative.
“We also had Central Office people coming over and helping as substitutes,” Frederickson said. “A lot of help is definitely needed today.”
Besides sending out a text message to parents of students about 11 a.m., advising them of the death and that they could pick up students from school if desired, Berblinger put out a recorded phone call just after 1 p.m.
“We’re praying for the family, our students and staff,” his message concluded.
On Friday morning, Konrade’s truck went across the median into the northbound lanes of K-61, colliding with a northbound 2002 Peterbilt truck pulling a tanker, which was driven by Shawn Leland Hallbauer, 44, of Inman.
The crash closed traffic on the northbound bridge over Medora Road, with traffic diverted to ramps at that location for almost six hours.
Hallbauer was not injured.
Jacob A. Aguilera, 19, of Wichita was killed and several received suspected serious injuries in a three-vehicle crash at 12:02 p.m. near U.S. Highway 77 and 1100 Avenue.
A 1999 Ford driven by Humberto C. Contreras, 50, of Wichita left the roadway into the east ditch. The vehicle overcorrected and entered into oncoming traffic, colliding with a 2008 Cobalt driven by Richard Aguilera, 23, of Goddard. A third vehicle, a 2009 Malibu, driven by Braydan Hale, 21, of Burns crashed into the other two vehicles.
Jacob Aguilera was a passenger in the Cobalt.
Contreras was transported to Geary Community Hospital and Richard Aguilera was transported to the Herington hospital with injuries. Hale was uninjured.
All were wearing seat belts.
La Crosse fatality
Near La Crosse, Terra D. Davis, 44, of La Crosse was killed in a crash on U.S. 183. The 2002 Impala spun out of control and struck a second vehicle.
The Kansas Highway Patrol reported Davis was not wearing a seat belt.
The Kansas Highway Patrol also reported two fatalities in McPherson County but details were not available.