Saturday, December 20, 2014

West Franklin grad still hospitalized after fatal Missouri highway wreck

By ABBY ECKEL, Herald Staff Writer | 9/18/2013

Kaylene Wray was released from the intensive care unit at Freeman West Hospital in Joplin, Mo., Tuesday morning, but it’s unknown when she will be able to come home, Ben Wray said.

Kaylene Wray, 20, a graduate of West Franklin High School in Pomona, was among six people injured in a car wreck Saturday in southwest Missouri, Ben Wray, Kaylene’s father, said. One passenger, a 22-year-old Olathe man with Ottawa ties, was killed.

Kaylene Wray was released from the intensive care unit at Freeman West Hospital in Joplin, Mo., Tuesday morning, but it’s unknown when she will be able to come home, Ben Wray said.

Kaylene Wray, 20, a graduate of West Franklin High School in Pomona, was among six people injured in a car wreck Saturday in southwest Missouri, Ben Wray, Kaylene’s father, said. One passenger, a 22-year-old Olathe man with Ottawa ties, was killed.

“She had a ruptured spleen, but they operated on that immediately after she was brought to the hospital,” Ben Wray said. “Her pelvis bone broke in two places, five broken ribs, a lacerated liver and had a partial collapsed lung, but [her lung] is doing a lot a better now.”

Kaylene Wray was a passenger in a 2005 Chevrolet Impala driven by Caleb Neely, 23, Dadeville, Mo., that was eastbound on Missouri Highway 126 when it failed to yield at a stop sign and pulled into the path of a 1994 Ford F-150 driven by Crystal Carter, Lamar, Mo., as the truck traveled northbound on Missouri Highway 43, according to a Missouri State Highway Patrol report.

“[Kaylene] doesn’t remember the accident,” Ben Wray said. “They were going to ... a wedding in Lamar.”

Ben Wray said he didn’t know much about the wreck, but said the driver, Neely, was familiar with the roads and he said he thought Neely would have remembered to stop at the stop sign. Kaylene Wray was not a current student at Pittsburg State University, her father said, but was taking the semester off to work.

Among those in the Impala with Neely and Kaylene Wray was Nicholas Chase, 22, Olathe, according to a Missouri State Highway Patrol report. Chase was pronounced dead at the scene by the Barton County, Mo., deputy coroner, the highway patrol report said. Chase was a senior at Pittsburg State University studying automotive technology, Kelsie Weiser, friend and fellow student at Pittsburg State University, said.

“Nick was an amazing guy. He didn’t dislike anyone he met,” Weiser said in an email. “He gave everyone a chance and was always willing to be a friend. He was silly and he absolutely loved to have a good time. His friends and family meant everything to him. He had a huge passion for motorcycles and cars.”

Devin Walter, 23, Topeka, and Tracy Morgan, 20, Argonia, also were in the Impala with Chase and Wray and were transported to Freeman West Hospital with “serious injuries,” the highway patrol report said. Walter was listed in good condition by hospital officials Monday afternoon. No information was available for Morgan, hospital officials said.

Carter, the driver of the F-150, and her passenger, Hiram Ruth, 32, Lamar, were transported by air ambulance to Freeman West where both were treated for injuries and released, hospital officials said.

Though he still has questions about the wreck, Ben Wray said his main concern was for his daughter and her well-being.

“[Kaylene] is doing much better,” Ben Wray said. “[Doctors] haven’t given us a timeline of when [Kaylene] might be able to come home, but when she does, there will be a lot of continued care when she gets home.”

Herald senior writer Doug Carder contributed to this report.

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