A 16-year-old Hiawatha teen was killed in an early morning crash Sunday and three other teenagers remain hospitalized in serious to critical conditions.
Another teen passenger was treated and released by the Hiawatha Community Hospital.
The Kansas Highway Patrol announced in an online crash report that Andrew O. Kreek, 17, of Hiawatha was driving a 2010 Toyota Corolla at a high rate of speed northbound on Horned Owl Road and experienced a loss of control at the wheel. The initial report did not verify which direction the vehicle was headed, but Sheriff John Merchant confirmed Kreek was driving northbound on Horned Owl Road as he approached U.S. 36.
The Highway Patrol said the Corolla is believed to have exited the roadway into the left ditch, at a point where the path of the road abruptly veers to the right. The car went airborne, rotating in the air above U.S. Highway 36, before landing on its top in a ditch against an embankment on the opposite side of the highway, which is the north ditch.
A passenger in the vehicle, Ian Miller, 16, of Hiawatha was pronounced dead at the scene. Other passengers, Gabriel Corbett, 18, and Nevaeh Dismang, 15, along with Kreek - all of Hiawatha - are receiving care for suspected serious to critical injuries at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, following transport there by a medical helicopter from the crash scene. First responders transported Andrew T. Woods, 19, to Hiawatha Community Hospital for treatment of suspected minor injuries; he was later released. According to the Highway Patrol, of the five occupants, only Woods had been wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.
Family members of Kreek and Corbett have posted medical updates on social media about their conditions, to keep the concerned community informed. Corbett's family has announced he underwent a 5-hour surgery to pin his hip and femur, has multiple other injuries and should expect a long recovery, with a transfer to a rehab hospital possible in the future. Kreek has a brain injury and as of Wednesday remained unconscious in the ICU, according to an update shared by his family members, who said that he is in a quiet room resting, but had responded to some stimuli and showed some movement. Family members of Dismang shared Monday that she had sustained several broken bones and two fractures to her spine and remained at KU Medical Center.
In the wake of the accident and Miller's death, Hiawatha Public Schools USD 415 cancelled a school play, "The Trials of Robin Hood," that had been scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday. The district announced that Hiawatha High School was to be open from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday so that counselors, social workers, district administrators and staff would be able to console students and members of the community who knew Miller. School resumed as normal on Monday, but counselors remained available for students and staff.
Miller, Kreek and Dismang were all current students at Hiawatha High School and Corbett and Woods graduated from HHS in 2019.
"The entire USD 415 Family is deeply saddened by the death of one of our students," a district representative said in a social media announcement. "We ask for your prayers and thoughts for the family of Ian Miller, and for the other victims of the tragedy. Our staff is working to ensure all of our students have access to support during this difficult time."
Sheriff John Merchant expressed sorrow at the event and wanted to thank the first responders and emergency personnel who responded to the accident.
"Our emergency responders have a very difficult job and always go above and beyond to make it to the scenes and render aid, without complaint," he said. "Regardless of the time of day, weather conditions or amount of time it takes to complete in our rural community, we are truly blessed to have these dedicated volunteers responding."
Services for Ian Miller are pending at Chapel Oaks Funeral Home and the Hiawatha World will update this story as soon as the information becomes available.
GoFundMe accounts have been set up for each of the families. They can be found at www.gofundme.com.