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Police increasing patrols after increase in crashes at Crawford and Bourbon County Line

Four to two lane merge on 69 area for wrecks

CRAWFORD COUNTY, Kan. - "I've seen accidents involving deer, some accidents where it appears that people might have been in a hurry, crossed the center line, and then have gone head-on with other vehicles," says Crawford County Sergeant Chris Wilson as he patrols 69 highway. 

Just last week, they worked a head-on collision after a driver crossed the center line. 

"That driver was transported to the hospital, and I think the other driver was as well, but they were able to walk away, where he had to be extracted from his vehicle," says Wilson. 

Sheriff Danny Smith says 69 has always been a dangerous highway, but they've worked 22 crashes, eight resulting in injuries, close to where the highway merges from a four-lane to a two-lane road... all in the last three months. 

That number doesn't include crashes in Bourbon County near the area or crashes worked by the Kansas Highway Patrol.

"You get people coming out of Kansas City, and those drivers and the students are coming down here, and they get 75 miles per hour until they get to Fort Scott, and then you get south of Fort Scott and you get your four-lane, then your two-lane," explains Smith. "The drivers are being funneled into the dangerous part of 69 highway. So you have hills, no passing zones, deer, and then throw some distracted driving in there and some aggressive driving. So there's just so many different things that can happen."

Drivers who take the road on a regular basis say they have to take extra caution because that stretch can be dangerous. 

"Oftentimes when we're merging people aren't very friendly about it since they have to go first and everybody else has to go first," says Stachia Cooper. "Oftentimes I've seen it (near misses), and I've almost been in an accident too."

So now, Crawford County, Bourbon County, and the Kansas Highway Patrol are increasing patrols in the area, to try to get the number of accidents to slow down."

"Our ultimate goal is to make sure people get to where they're going, and do so safely," says Wilson. 

Sheriff Smith has approved overtime for deputies, so they can do extra patrols after their shifts. 

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