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Police search for accident cause in Wichita child's death

A Wichita child recently died in an auto accident. Police are waiting to find out if the drivers of either car involved in the crash, including the 6-year-old's mother, were under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The accident investigation may take several weeks until officials learn the outcome of toxicology tests. Police do not suspect alcohol was the cause of the weeknight accident. Rather, police are interested in whether either driver was impaired by medication.

According to reports and witnesses, a Honda Acura was speeding along Mount Vernon when his vehicle struck a Ford Fusion occupied by a 27-year-old woman and her two daughters. Witness testimony varied on whether the woman driver ignored a stop sign.

Police and witnesses agreed the 18-year-old behind the wheel of the Acura was traveling at a high rate of speed. Investigators believe the Acura might have been traveling at speeds nearly double the 35 mph speed limit.

The 6-year-old girl in the Fusion was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency personnel. This is the ninth Wichita traffic death this year.

The child's mother and younger sister were hospitalized. The woman was treated and released from Wesley Medical Center. The 1-year-old is still undergoing treatment. The toddler's injuries and medical condition were not reported.

The Acura driver was not hurt. His teenager passenger suffered minor injuries.

Police are withholding charges until they learn more about the drivers' physical conditions at the time of the accident. At the same time, a family is overwhelmed by grief over the loss of a child and concern for the health of an injured toddler.

If drugged driving or high speeds are proven to be factors in the crash, serious criminal charges could follow. If the teen driver is found negligent, the parents of the children hurt and killed in the accident could initiate a civil lawsuit for damages and wrongful death.

Source: kansas.com, "Police: Decision on charges in fatal crash weeks away," Stan Finger, July 3, 2012

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