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Wichita stolen truck chase ends in Kansas victim's death

The cause of a midday crash in Wichita began as a police pursuit. Kansas State Patrol is investigating what happened in the few minutes between the time a GMC pickup was spotted and a fatal auto accident that killed a truck driver.

According to a Wichita police captain, an officer noticed a green pickup that matched the description in a stolen vehicle report. The truck was pulled over. The officer spoke briefly with a driver he thought might have had a weapon. The driver fled.

A police chase began and ended quickly when the officer realized the pursued truck was accelerating through intersections at dangerously high speeds. Witnesses said the stolen truck sped along the busy escape route, even after the officer abandoned the pursuit.

People near the accident scene said the pickup rolled through a stop sign at an intersection and smashed into the side of a Chevrolet Colorado. At least one and possibly both trucks then struck a tree.

The unidentified driver in the second vehicle died. The man suspected of stealing the truck and causing the fatal accident was seen bleeding and handcuffed before being taken away in an ambulance.

Charges had not been filed at the time early reports of the crash were released. The high-speed pursuit seemed to be motivated by the driver's fear of being caught for stealing a truck. State troopers will determine whether other factors like drug or alcohol impairment were present.

Overt signs of reckless behavior- like leading a police chase or drunk driving - add weight to damage awards in wrongful death lawsuits. At the same time, criminal actions and impairment are not required for plaintiffs to receive compensation.

A plaintiff's lawyer is charged with proving negligence that caused someone's death and a family's losses. The amount of damages may fluctuate when negligence contains intent. The lack of intent does not excuse a defendant's responsibility.

Source: kansas.com, "1 killed, 1 injured in collision after police chase in south Wichita," Tim Potter, March 6, 2013

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