LEAVENWORTH COUNTY, KS (KCTV) - The Kansas Highway Patrol is looking into exactly what caused a semi driver to crash into a toll booth on the Kansas Turnpike on Saturday morning in Leavenworth County.
The wreck killed one person, critically injured another, left the tractor-trailer barely recognizable and shut down the toll booth.
It happened just before 3 a.m. at an eastern toll plaza on westbound Interstate 70, about 13 miles east of Lawrence, KS.
The Kansas Highway Patrol trooper on scene said he's never seen a crash like it.
"It appears the Class 5 vehicle went between what would be the No. 3 and No. 4 lane and just rode up that barrier wall," said Kansas State Master Trooper Mike Gruber.
Mike Gruber said the driver, 30-year-old Sergiy Angelchev, was thrown out of the semi and died at the scene.
"According to witnesses traveling behind the semi, he was running at highway speed, and didn't appear to brake and basically ran into the toll plaza," Gruber said.
The passenger, 25-year-old Roman Ilyaich, was flown to the hospital in critical condition. Kansas Turnpike Authority said both men were from Aurora, CO, heading west on Interstate 70 carrying a load of garden hose that was strewn about the highway. Gruber said neither person was wearing a seatbelt.
"I've never seen a crash like this at the toll plaza," Gruber said.
Gruber said it could have been much worse had this been the exit where people work collecting tolls. The booth on that side of the highway was unmanned.
"Not on entry (we don't have anybody working). Any major interchange on the Kansas Turnpike we have collectors on exit, to take tolls and stuff like that, but not on entry," he said. "This was all automated ticket counting and things like that."
But he said this is not the first time an accident has happened at the location.
"We had a semi come through here last weekend that hit the far booth on the right and it actually ripped the ticket counter out of the booth and actually cracked the concrete - we got a tunnel that runs under the turnpike - it actually cracked the concrete in the tunnel under the booth, I don't know what they're going to do now that we've had this happen too," Gruber said.
Troopers are investigating to determine why the driver crashed.
I-70 west remains closed at the toll plaza except for the K-tag lane.