Two pedestrians killed by snowplow in Kansas

Tuttle Creek Boulevard is closed off starting at the Marlatt Avenue intersection in Manhattan, Kansas, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. A snowplow struck and killed two pedestrians in Kansas before sunrise Friday after a winter storm coated parts of the Midwest with snow. (Nickolas Oatley/The Manhattan Mercury via AP) (Photo: Nickolas Oatley, AP)

TOPEKA, Kan. – Two pedestrians were killed early Friday morning after they were struck by a snowplow near the campus of Kansas State University in Manhattan, authorities said.

The victims were identified as Anthony Stephen Toler, 22, and Jayden J. Rosa, 20, both of Manhattan. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of the Riley County snowplow, Lawrence J. Gassman, 65, of Manhattan, was reported uninjured.

The incident was reported at 4:55 a.m. Friday. According to the Kansas Highway Patrol, a 2016 Freightliner snowplow was westbound on Tuttle Creek Boulevard north of the Kansas State University campus when it struck two people who were walking in the right lane.

Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Ben Gardner said investigators were trying to determine why the two pedestrians were in the road at the time.

Initial reports indicated the pedestrians were “walking along the roadway and crossed over to gain access to where they reside,” Gardner said. As they were crossing over, Gardner said, “they were in the lanes of travel” when they were hit by the snowplow.

Gardner said the driver, who tried to avoid hitting the victims, wasn’t plowing or salting at the time and was driving with the plow’s blade raised. He said he didn’t know whether it was snowing but added that road conditions and speed didn’t appear to be a factor.

Additional details weren’t immediately available.

Riley County officials said they were “fully cooperating” with the Kansas Highway Patrol’s investigation.

“The accident is a tremendous tragedy for all those personally involved and our community as a whole,” said Marvin Rodriguez, Riley County Commission chairman. “Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to all involved in the accident.”

The National Weather Service had issued winter weather advisories across parts of Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin and a large swath of Missouri.

Contributing: The Associated Press; follow Phil Anderson on Twitter: @Philreports

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