Wichita woman dies in fatality wreck east of Cheney

A Monday morning multi-vehicle accident – involving one semi and other vehicles – has left one person dead and others injured. The accident lead to the closure of U.S. Highway 54.

Updated 6:15 p.m., Sept. 23, 2019

By Travis Mounts

Authorities have identified the woman killed in Monday’s multi-wreck situation on U.S. Highway 54, between Cheney and Garden Plain.

Mendi Cotter, 30, of Wichita, died at the scene Monday morning. She was westbound on U.S. 54 toward Cheney. An eastbound van, attempting to avoid a stopped car on the highway, came across the median and struck Cotter’s 2012 Ford Escape. Cotter, a native of Pratt, leaves behind a husband and two children.

As of Monday evening, other injured drivers had been identified by the Kansas Highway Patrol. They included Adam Loyd of Pretty Prairie, and Randy Sanders of Cheney. Both were taken to the hospital. Blake Kinyon of Pretty Prairie was a passenger in one of the vehicles. He suffered minor injuries but refused transport.

Esther Farrell-Pepper and Nathan Furches, both of Cheney, also were injured. They had not been identified in a KHP report as of 6:10 p.m. Monday, but shared their experience by phone from the hospital on Monday afternoon. Both were taken by ambulance to the hospital. Furches was later released. Farrell-Pepper said she was being kept in the hospital until at least Tuesday as doctors monitored her injuries.

See this Thursday’s print edition of The Times-Sentinel for more on the accident, including more about Cotter and recollections from Farrell-Pepper and Furches about the scene. Fog and the early morning sun appear to have played a major role, and there were at least three separate accidents within minutes at that location.


Post earlier Monday:

There was a serious crash at U.S. 54 and 343rd – between Cheney and Garden Plain – on Monday morning, Sept. 23.

According to information from the Kansas Highway Patrol, a woman from Wichita died in one of two crashes that happened just before 8 a.m., and closed the high way in both directions.

A crash in the westbound lanes involved a 2004 Chevrolet van and a 2012 Ford sedan. The woman who died was reported to be in the Ford.

Meanwhile, multiple crashes were reported in the eastbound lanes. One crash involved a 2004 Ford F350 pickup and a semi. The driver and passenger of the pickup were injured, with the passenger suffering potentially critical injuries. That person was airlifted to a Wichita hospital.

Lanes in both directions were closed for several hours, but are open as of Monday afternoon.

Fog may have been a factor in the accident.

This post will be updated as more information becomes available, and a story will appear in Thursday’s print edition of The Times-Sentinel.