Major crash hospitalizes 5, shuts down I-70 & burns bridge near Topeka Service Area

TOPEKA (KSNT) – Several people have gone to the hospital Monday evening after a severe wreck on I-70 that shut down lanes of the highway for at least three hours, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol.

Crews first went out around 5 p.m. to the Kansas Turnpike on I-70 on reports of a crash. The wreck involved two semi-trailers and two passenger cars, according to KHP. At least one of the semis at mile marker 187 caught fire, which photos show visibly burnt the entrance ramp to the Topeka Service Area.

(KSNT Photo/Preston Wilson)

I-70 past Stubbs Road. (Courtesy Photo/Angela Lowe)

(KSNT Photo/Cassie Nichols)

(KSNT Photo/Preston Wilson)

(Courtesy Photo/@iAGReviews)

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The Topeka Fire Department confirmed around 8:30 p.m. that its fire engines and hazmat team went to handle the fire and toxic fumes started in the wreck. KHP reported five people went to a local hospital for injuries. Both the fire department and KHP said there were no deaths in the crash, but the highway patrol said one person has serious injuries.

(Courtesy Photo/Topeka Fire Department)

(Courtesy Photo/Topeka Fire Department)

(Courtesy Photo/Topeka Fire Department)

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A spokesperson for KHP told KSNT News that an assessment crew will tell if the rest stop’s burnt bridge is safe for cars to travel on, or if it will be shut down for a period of time. Emergency crews initially had all cars avoid the burnt entrance ramp to the Topeka Service Area, and westbound traffic diverted through the rest stop’s parking lot to get past the crash scene.

Westbound traffic on I-70 diverts through the Topeka Service Area parking lot to get around the crash and back on the highway. (KSNT Sky Tracker II Photo/Mark Feuerborn)

The Kansas Turnpike Authority later said around 10:20 p.m. that I-70’s westbound lanes reopened, and a KSNT News reporter at the scene around 10:45 said crews were instead diverting eastbound cars to the Topeka Service Area.

https://twitter.com/KansasTurnpike/status/1422396335400050690

Photos from the early stages of the crash showed KHP troopers, Shawnee County sheriff’s deputies and KTA crews turning eastbound cars off of I-70 through an emergency exit and onto Shawnee Heights Road to U.S. Highway 40.

(KSNT Sky Tracker II Photo/Mark Feuerborn)

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Traffic was backed up at least two miles, according to a KSNT News reporter on scene.

(KSNT News Sky Tracker II Photo/Mark Feuerborn)

(KSNT Photo/Preston Wilson)

KHP told KSNT News its troopers’ investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing, and crews remained on the scene Monday night. TFD warned drivers to expect major traffic delays around the Topeka Service Area, as crews plan to be there dealing with the aftermath of the crash for an extended period of time.

Crews opened I-70 Eastbound to traffic just before midnight Monday. The Kansas Turnpike Authority tweeted at 11:49 p.m. saying the “incident is no longer impacting all lanes of I-70 EB outside of Topeka.”

KTA Alert: Incident no longer impacting all lanes on I70 MM 187 EB outside of Topeka.

— Kansas Turnpike (@KansasTurnpike) August 3, 2021