On Wednesday, March 13 at 10:39 p.m. Barton County Sheriff’s Office deputies were dispatched to a reported motor vehicle accident on US 56 Highway near mile marker 208. This location is approximately one mile east of the city of Great Bend on US 56.
Upon arrival Sheriff’s deputies located a two-vehicle accident on the north shoulder of the roadway. Investigation indicates a 2006 Dodge ram pickup, white in color was eastbound on US 56 when it crossed left of center. The vehicle may have been attempting to pass at the time of the collision. The vehicle was operated by Jaron Brittain, age 17 of Hudson.
The second vehicle, a 2003 Ford F250, black in color was westbound. The operator was identified as Sergio Rutiaga of Liberal.
It appears the Britton vehicle attempted to avoid the accident by steering towards the left (north) ditch. The 2003 Ford, operated by Rutiaga, struck the Brittain vehicle broadside in the passenger door.
A passenger in the Brittain vehicle identified as Wyatt Henkel, age 15 of Hudson sustained fatal injuries upon impact and was pronounced dead at the scene. Britain and Rutiaga were both transported to KU Medical Center Great Bend, with non-life-threatening injuries. Their condition is not known at this time.
The accident is currently under investigation by the Barton County Sheriff’s Office. It does not appear alcohol was a contributing factor. The Sheriff’s Office was assisted at the scene by units from the Great Bend Fire Department and EMS service, the Great Bend Police Department, and the Kansas Highway Patrol.