Fatal crash shuts down I-35 in Johnson County for hours
Aaron Heintzelman , contributor: Lisa Benson
6:52 AM, Jun 14, 2011
2:35 PM, Jun 15, 2011
MERRIAM, Kansas - Authorities have identified the victim of Tuesday morning's fatal rollover wreck as 15-year-old Raina Esparza.
According to the Kansas Highway Patrol, Esparza was a passenger in a sport utility vehicle headed southbound on Interstate 35 just after 6:30 a.m.
The 35-year-old male driver lost control and over-corrected, causing the SUV to flip and land on its side.
Raina, who was not wearing a seat belt, was pronounced dead at the scene.
The wreck snarled traffic in the southbound lanes for several hours.
Video from Kansas City Scout showed the backup had already grown extensive by 6:50 a.m. Nearly 40 minutes later, the backup had grown past 635 and was slowing northbound traffic, though no lanes in that direction were closed.
Authorities cleared the wreckage from the roadway by 7:45 a.m., but the road remained closed for several hours after the wreck.
Drivers were ushered off the highway at the Antioch exit. The detour was a quick one, as you can get right back on the highway on the other end of the wreck, but it remained a stand-still for much of the time the road was closed.