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TOPEKA, KS – Two people were injured Monday afternoon, December 6, in a truck accident on a highway in Shawnee County, Kansas. The crash, which involved a semi trailer truck and a passenger car, occurred on Interstate 470 as it passes through the city of Topeka. The accident area is in the northeast corner of the state, about 231 miles north of Tulsa, Oklahoma and about 63 miles west of Kansas City, Missouri.

On Monday afternoon 45 year old David Ray Vandenburg of Chester, Montana was driving a 1996 Kenworth tractor trailer west on Interstate 470, traveling through Shawnee County, Kansas. The truck driver’s company and cargo are not known. The semi driver’s destination at the time of the truck accident has not been released.

Shortly before 3:30 p.m. Monday afternoon Mr. Vandenburg was driving his semi through the city of Topeka when the truck accident occurred. The tractor trailer was traveling behind a white 1988 Mercury Grand Marquis when the passenger car suddenly went out of control near the highway’s exit to SW Gage Road.

According to reports a rear tire on the Mercury blew out and the driver, 28 year old Miguel A. Panuco of Topeka, struggled to keep his car on the highway. Mr. Panuco apparently overcorrected and the Mercury went spinning across all westbound lanes of I-470 and directly into the path of the Kenworth semi trailer. Mr. Panuco’s pregnant wife was also in the car at the time of the truck accident.

The truck driver, Mr. Vandenburg, attempted to swerve out of the way but caught the left, driver’s side of the passenger car. The force of the truck accident propelled the Mercury off the interstate and it ended up in a grassy area alongside the road. A part of the car would remain stuck in the front grill of the tractor trailer which came to a stop on the interstate’s shoulder.


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After the collision the truck driver went to help the couple in the crashed Mercury. Another semi driver who had witnessed the truck accident pulled over to give aid, as did a retired police officer and a firefighter who was off duty at the time.

Topeka police and emergency first responders rushed to the crash site. The Mercury was partially crushed in the truck accident and the young couple was trapped inside. Rescue teams used tools to cut through the car’s metal and extricate the two victims. Once the two were free they were stabilized by EMTs with American Medical Response and then taken by ambulances to Stormont-Vail Regional Health Center in Topeka.

An official spokesperson stated that as of Monday night Mr. Panuco was in serious condition but did not reveal the exact injuries he suffered. His wife, identified as 21 year old Texas N. Panuco of Topeka, received minor injuries in the truck accident. Mrs. Panuco, who is 8 months pregnant, was admitted to the same hospital and is in fair condition. Her unborn child is reported in good condition.

The truck driver, Mr. Vandenburg, was not hurt in the truck accident. He was commended for the evasive action he took to avoid a rear-end collision which likely lessened the impact of the crash.

Topeka police and the Kansas State Highway Patrol shut down two of the three westbound lanes of I-470 around the truck accident scene while highway crews worked and investigators gathered information. Drivers were advised to avoid the stretch of I-470 between SW Gage and Fairlawn, and vehicles were diverted to secondary routes. Both the demolished Mercury and the semi trailer were towed from the highway and the two westbound lanes reopened at around 5:30 p.m. Monday evening.

Investigators reconstructed the collision and determined that all three people involved were wearing seat belts at the time of the truck accident. It is believed that the blown tire set off the collision.

Police have not yet indicated whether they will bring any charges once the investigation of the truck accident is complete.

For more information about Kansas trucking laws, truck injury causes and victims’ rights, contact truck accident lawyers Gordon, Elias & Seely, LLP for expert truck accident advice. Visit our Topeka KS truck accident lawyer page for more information about Kansas truck accidents. For a free initial consultation, talk to a truck accident attorney at 1.800.773.6770.

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