Both northbound and southbound traffic Thursday were temporarily closed on Interstate 135 near Newton after a three-car crash on the highway.


Both northbound and southbound traffic Thursday were temporarily closed on Interstate 135 near Newton after a three-car crash on the highway.

A Ford Focus driven by Jacob Ethan O’Donnell, 20, of Wichita, and a 2003 Mercury Marquis driven by Dorothy Claassen, 85, of North Newton, were southbound at about 5 p.m. Thursday on I-135 at mile post 29 just north of Southeast 24th Street, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol.

O’Donnell was in the right-hand lane and attempted to change lanes, merging into Claassen’s vehicle, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol.

O’Donnell lost control and struck Claassen’s vehicle.

O’Donnell’s vehicle spun into the center median.

Claassen’s vehicle slid through the median in the northbound lane and broadsided a 1999 Lexus driven by Pamela Renee Waltner, 40, of Hesston, according to the Highway Patrol.

O’Donnell was taken to Wesley Medical Center in critical condition.

Both the female drivers initially were taken to Newton Medical Center in serious condition.

One of those patients later was transported to Wesley Medical Center for further evaluation, but the name of which patient was not released, according to Newton Fire/EMS reports.

Mark Willis, deputy chief of the Newton Fire/EMS Department, said both lanes of the interstate had to be closed because of the extent of the debris and to allow emergency responders to work.

The southbound lanes were opened after a few minutes, and the northbound lanes were opened after about 10 to 15 minutes, he said.