TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT)– KSNT News learned the names of the five people killed in Tuesday’s fiery crash along Interstate 70 near Bonner Springs. Three of the five were from Topeka.
Traffic was slowing down for a construction zone on the turnpike when a semi-trailer caused a six-vehicle crash.
Allan and Peggy Hazlett were neighbors of two victims killed in the accident, Sheldon and Virginia Cohen. They were neighbors for 50 years.
“I said you’re not going to believe this, I’m still in shock…it’s very sad, I’m going to miss them both,” Peggy Hazlett said as she found out her neighbors were killed in the crash.
Allan Hazlett said the Cohen’s were everything you would want in a neighbor.
The Hazlett’s told KSNT News that Virginia had macular degeneration and couldn’t see well. Peggy Hazlett said she has one thing she wishes she could say to Virginia Cohen.
“Now you can see again,” Peggy said.
Sheldon Cohen was a retired professor at Washburn University, however he did continue to teach as an emeritus. Sheldon Cohen had a kids chemistry show he did on the weekends and Allan Hazlett said it is his best memory of Sheldon.
“He was just very vivacious and excited and totally different than he was everyday,” Allan Hazlett said.
Washburn University President Jerry Farley said Sheldon Cohen was one of the best teachers he knows.
“Teachers touch the future, that’s just the way it is, and he was such a great teacher that people remember him,” Farley said.
He added that Sheldon Cohen’s legacy will be hard to forget.
“None of us can hope for more than we change somebody else’s life for the positive and he did that no question, what a great legacy,” Farley said.
The third Topekan killed in the crash was Ricardo Mireles. His sister Angelica said that her brother was a family man, a hard worker, and all around a great man. He leaves behind two children, Larissa who is 15 and Tristan who is 5.
Angelica said that he was a great father who loved his children wholeheartedly and there wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for them.
When Ricardo wasn’t working he loved to spend time wit his children, family and friends. She said that football season will never be the same as they had a rivalry with one another as he loved the Chiefs and she is a New England fan.
She also shared a funny memory about Ricardo that she will never forget.
“He had a great love for chocolate, as funny as the chocolate part sounds, if you knew my brother you would know exactly what I mean,” Angelica said.
She said he is going to be a big piece missing from their family.
“Words cannot describe what his absence is doing to our family,” she said.
Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Tompson said, “There may or may not be charges filed in the crash.” He also said the investigation could take as long as six months.