Repair work continues, and one woman remains in the hospital, following an accident that resembled something out of a movie script and made a hero out of a police officer.
At 10:20 p.m. on Feb. 22, Newton Police were dispatched to an accident in the 1600 block of South Kansas. Officer Brad Anderson was leaving a call at Newton Medical Center and arrived within minutes — key to the survival of 40-year-old Kristy Hermstein who was injured by a power line while acting as a good Samaritan.
When he arrived, Officer Anderson saw power lines down across South Kansas. He met with a man who said his wife had suffered severe leg injuries. Anderson followed the man to his wife and applied tourniquets to both of her legs to stop the bleeding. Newton Fire/EMS arrived a short time later and transported the her to Wesley Medical Center in Wichita.
She lost her legs below the knee following surgeries.
The accident investigation revealed that the couple had stopped to check on the driver of another vehicle that had left the road and struck guy wires supporting an electrical pole. The pole carried power lines over U.S. Highway 50, and the damage caused those power lines to sag.
A semi-truck was eastbound on U.S. 50, unaware the power lines were sagging over the road. The roof of the semi snagged the lines, causing the poles on South Kansas on both the north and south sides of U.S. 50 to detach, sending guy wires, poles, and power lines across South Kansas at a high velocity. It is believed this flying debris is what struck the female victim as she was standing outside her vehicle.
The man who initially struck the pole did not appear to be injured in the accident, but he was transported to the hospital for a medical condition. The driver of the semi was not injured in the accident.
Officer Anderson has been with the Newton Police Department since September 2018. Chief Craig Dunlavy said the department is proud of his efforts to help save the victim’s life.
“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the victim and her family, and we wish her a speedy recovery from this terrible accident,” Dunlavy said.
Repair work on electrical systems at SE 14th and Kansas continued Tuesday, with some traffic signals restored to functioning. At the U.S. 50 off-ramp, significant repairs are needed on the meter for the traffic signal. The city of Newton contractor, Kansas Electric, expects this work will take a week or two, as there is a lot to build and they have to pull all new wire. In the meantime, the city will use will use a four-way stop, with message boards to alert drivers of a stop ahead.