Location: Hutchinson

Stafford, Kansas Cyclist Killed

Stafford, Kansas Cyclist KilledThis news is a bit old, but important.

On November 4th, 71-year-old James Jerome Searle was riding his bicycle east on Old Highway 50 just west of Stafford, Kansas when he was struck from behind by an SUV driven by Lawrence L. Curtis, 81, of Stafford.

Searle died at the scene. Curtis initially left the scene of the collision, but returned approximately 10 minutes after the call came in to Stafford County dispatchers.

A subsequent story from The Hutchinson News gives us a little background:

Jim Searle was a man on a mission Wednesday afternoon. Enjoying the mild fall weather, he rode his bicycle west of town, stopping at a friend’s cornfield to pick ears to feed the squirrels in his back yard. Heading back into town, the 71-year-old Searle was struck from behind by a motorist and died at the scene of the accident.

He was so focused on being there for his grandkids, said his son, Jeff Searle, he was taking good care of his health, losing weight and becoming an avid cyclist. His mission was to extend his life in a family that didn’t have a history of longevity.

“I don’t believe in premonitions,” said Jeff Searle. “But he told me six months ago since he was 60 he felt he was living on borrowed time. Everyday was a bonus.”

And that’s just how he lived his life. Greetings came with hugs, people were cherished.

Back in the early 1960s, while working for Halliburton Services in Great Bend, Searle was injured in an accident and had part of a leg amputated just below the knee.

Read more: Man sought to live longer for grandkids

Kansas Highway Patrol Lieutenant Stephen Billinger said it would be up to Stafford County Attorney Joe Shepack whether Curtis would be charged with anything as a result of the accident.

See also: Car, bicycle accident claims life of Stafford resident from the St. John News. Photo courtesy of Terry Spradley of the St. John News.

About The Author

By Randy Rasa, editor/webmaster at Kansas Cyclist, the web's premier Kansas cycling information site, featuring authoritative guides to Kansas cycling clubs, bike shops, organized bike rides, touring, trails, and much more. [learn more]

5 responses to “Stafford, Kansas Cyclist Killed”

  1. Seamus says:

    Interesting that the newspaper felt compelled to report whether the motorist sustained any injuries and also provided a damage assessment for the SUV. At least they have their priorities in order.

    Does anyone know whether the motorist has been charged yet? He fled the scene after all. This shouldn’t merely be a slap on the wrist. These complete lapses on the part of the DAs suggest that it’s open season on cyclists in Kansas: “Run ’em over and flee the scene, you won’t be charged. After all, accidents happen!”

  2. jayhawks22 says:

    Charges have not yet been filed as there was a long delay waiting for drug results for Mr. Curtis due to a backlog @ the KBI lab. These results are now in & charges should be made in the near future.

  3. jayhawks22 says:

    Mr. Curtis was finally charged the last week of September ’10 almost 11 months after Mr. Searle’s death. He was only charged with leaving the scene of a fatality. Mr. Searle was riding completely within the bounds of the Kansas motor vehicle laws, and Mr. Curtis was found and has admitted to being 100% at fault. As unbelievable as it seems if Mr. Curtis had not left the scene it appears that he would not have been charged at all. The preliminary hearing date has yet to be set. Evidence that has been gathered through witness interviews and depositions is pointing towards the Curtis familyand Mr. Curtis knowing that Mr. Curtis had a severe eyesight issue several months prior to Mr. Searle being killed but unfortunately Mr. Curtis continued to drive.

  4. jayhawks22 says:

    The trial for Mr. Curtis that was originally scheduled for August 3rd was granted a continuance based on the request by Mr. Curtis’s defense attorney. The trial date will now most likely be in late ’11 or early ’12.

  5. jayhawks22 says:

    The trial that was set for November 29th based on the 1st continuance was continued again 1 week before the trial. Continuance was granted based on the mental & physical stress that would be created for the accused by going through the trial. Any accused that has struck & killed a person & then left the scene should be feeling both mental & physical stress as their trial approaches! It is a shame that the system does not take into account the affect that this is surely having on the victim’s family. Over 2 years after the crime Mr. Curtis’s attorney is suddenly working with a local non mental health expert to review the mental competency of Mr. Curtis. Hopefully the state/county will require a certified mental health professional to make the determination.