Alcohol is suspected to have played a role in a fatal one-vehicle traffic accident that occurred either late Saturday night or early Sunday morning on a county road one-fourth of a mile south of where Highway 73 and 67 connect, otherwise known as “Palmer Corner.”
“B.J.” Lester, 37, of Falls City, was pronounced dead at the scene after being ejected from a 2007 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup he was driving after the truck rolled several times on 648 Avenue. There were no passengers in the truck and Lester was not wearing his seatbelt. The accident was reported at 12:41 a.m.
A Celebration of Life Service for the Topeka, KS, native will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday at Dorr and Clark Funeral Home.
According to a statement released by the Richardson County Sheriff’s Office, Lester was traveling “at a high rate of speed” southbound on Highway 67 and failed to stop at the intersection. When concrete turned to gravel, Lester lost control of the truck, which traveled into the east side ditch. It then re-entered the roadway and rolled several times.
Tragically, it was the second fatal traffic accident in less than a week in that area. Gary Ossenkop, 66, of Lincoln, died Monday morning, March 3, from injuries suffered in a violent collision at the Shubert corner, where Highways 67 and 62 meet. That’s just six miles north of Sunday’s accident scene and, like Lester, Ossenkop failed to stop at the intersection though he WAS wearing his seatbelt when a southbound pickup, driven by Charles “Chuck” O’Grady, 55, a Falls City native who lives in Omaha struck Ossenkop’s vehicle almost directly on the driver’s side door. O’Grady, who was traveling at about 60 miles per hour, was wearing his seatbelt and escaped severe injury.
An autopsy has been scheduled for Lester, thought no results were made public as of Monday evening.
Responding to the scene were members of the Verdon Fire Dept., Falls City Ambulance Squad, the Richardson County Attorney’s Office, RC Sheriff’s Office and RC Highway Supt. Scott Huppert. The accident was investigated by Sheriff’s Deputy Clinton Stonebarger, Sgt. Jeff Frederick and Sheriff Don Pounds. Responders were on the scene for approximately four hours.
William J. “B.J.” Lester was born on June 27, 1977 at Topeka, the son of Sally (Wissman) Snider and Frank Lester. He was raised at Topeka and graduated from Jefferson West High School in Meriden, KS, which is a small town located 17 miles north of Topeka. He then graduated from Kansas Vocational-Technical College where he studied autobody repair. He worked a variety of jobs in different locations and had been employed by Salem Grain since 2005. On Aug. 8, 2008 B.J. married Amy Dean at Falls City. They later divorced. He loved his dogs, “Hudson”, “Taitor”, “Willie” and “Willow”.
B.J. is survived by his mother and stepfather, Sally and A.J. Snider, of Chicago; brother, Dustin Cattrell, of Topeka; step-brother, David Cattrell, of Hiawatha, KS; sister, Michelle (Mike) Brown, of Oskaloosa, KS; step-sisters, Cheryl Nelson-Humphrey, of Aurora, CO, and Cindy Cox, of Manhattan, KS; grandfather, Walter (Carol) Wissman, of Topeka; ex-wife, Amy Lester, of Falls City; nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his father.