A semitractor-trailer driver outside his cab was killed Friday afternoon in the Northland when the driver of another semi hit the back of an unmarked Kansas City police vehicle and pushed it into the victim.
The crash on southbound Interstate 29 at Barry Road forced traffic to a standstill in the area around 5:45 p.m.
The victim had exited his truck after his trailer door had opened, said Maj. Greg Dull with Kansas City police's traffic division.
Detectives, noticing the stalled truck, stopped behind it on the right shoulder.
"They'd stopped to help him," Dull said. "Detectives instructed him to get back in (his cab) because of danger due to all the passing vehicles."
Dull added the detectives blocked the right lane of traffic and told the driver that they would shut his trailer door for him.
But before the driver reached his cab, a second tractor-trailer crashed into the back of the unmarked police vehicle. That vehicle was in the middle lane and had nearly come to a stop. The driver decelerated and "blocked traffic in the middle lane to give them more room to take care of the issue with the (victim's) truck," Dull said.
Two civilian employees with Kansas City police were in the unmarked police vehicle. The civilian employees and detectives were returning together after responding to an unrelated scene.
"It is usual for detectives or members of the police department to assist a motorist or truck on the side of the road," Dull said, adding that it was normal procedure for a police vehicle to come to a near stop in a middle lane of a highway to assist stalled motorists.
The driver was pronounced dead on the scene. He drove for a nonprofit organization. Dull asked media not to release the name of the organization until his family was notified.
"It's terrible. I just feel terrible for this gentleman and his family," Dull said.
The second trucker drove for a farm operation.
The two civilian Kansas City police employees suffered minor injuries.
Their vehicle's front end was lodged under the trailer of the victim's rig.
The detective's vehicle may have also sustained damage, Dull said.
Dull said the speed limit decreases from 70 mph to 65 mph in the area. A recent report deemed the I-29 and Barry Road area as the most dangerous in the Kansas City Police Department's North Patrol Division. There were 263 crashes there in a one-year period that ended in March.
At around 10 p.m., southbound I-29 was reopened.
The traffic unit has started an investigation to determine if the farm truck driver was impaired, either by substance or fatigue. They will also work to determine if his truck had any mechanical issues.