SALINE COUNTY – Two drivers were hospitalized after a three vehicle crash north of Salina early Tuesday morning.
According to a Kansas Highway Patrol accident report, a 2015 Freightliner Semi driven by Frederick L. Murphy, 49, Houston, Tex., a 2003 Mitsubishi Galant driven by Austin S. Gawith, 21, Salina, and a 2003 Pontiac Sunfire driven by Ethan D. Schlacter, 19, Bennington, were all traveling southbound on U.S. Highway 81, about 3 1/2 miles north of the Crawford Street exit, when the semi driver attempted to exit onto westbound Interstate 70 unintentionally.
Realizing it was the wrong exit, the semi driver attempted to enter back into the southbound lanes of U.S. 81, forcing the driver of the Mitsubishi, who was in the driving lane, to drive under the semi’s trailer, where the vehicle became lodged underneath. The Sunfire then struck the back of the trailer.
Both Gawith and Schlachter were transported to Salina Regional Health Center with injuries that were suspected to be serious. Murphy, the semi driver, was not injured.
All three drivers were wearing seat belts at the time of the accident, which occurred just after 5:30 a.m.
The KHP said heavy fog is believed to be a contributing factor in the accident.