Kansas Senate leader charged with DUI, reckless driving, evading police, and driving down the wrong side of the highway

Gene Suellentrop
Kansas Senate Majority Leader Gene Suellentrop seen in the center of this 2015 photo.

  • Kansas State Sen. Gene Suellentrop faces multiple charges, including DUI and evading police.
  • He was arrested earlier in March after 911 callers reported him driving the wrong way down the highway.
  • The new charges were announced Friday by Shawnee County DA Mike Kagay.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Kansas State Sen. Gene Suellentrop, a Republican and the majority leader of the state Senate, is facing a list of charges, including DUI, following his arrest in Topeka earlier in March.

Five charges were filed against Sullentrop Friday, including a felony count of evading police, the DUI charge, and a misdemeanor count of reckless driving. According to The Associated Press, Sullentrop turned himself in to authorities Friday afternoon and faces a $5,000 bond.

Mike Kagay, a Republican and the Shawnee County district attorney, announced the charges Friday. Kagay in a news release said Sullentrop was the only occupant of the SUV at the time of his arrest on March 16. Police used “tactical vehicle intervention” to bring Sullentrop to a stop, he said.

Neither Suellentrop nor his office immediately returned Insider’s request for comment.

The most serious charge – the felony count of evading police – can carry a prison sentence between five and seven months for a first-time offender, though it’s more likely he’ll face probation, according to The Associated Press.

Audio released by the Shawnee County Dispatch and published by the local news outlet KSNT showed several people called 911 to report they saw a white SUV driving west in the eastbound lanes of I-470 and eventually driving on I-70 around 12:45 a.m. on March 16, according to local media outlets.

Suellentrop, one of the top Republican lawmakers in the state, was driving for at least 11 minutes, according to the AP report.

The Capitol Police division of the Kansas Highway Patrol arrested Suellentrop, 68, in downtown Topeka after “a short pursuit” in which officers discussed using stop-sticks on his SUV to slow down the vehicle, according to police audio published by KSNT.

The KHP said on Thursday it had no plans to release records regarding Sullentrop’s arrest because such reports weren’t required for DUI incidents, according to a previous Associated Press report.

According to the initial arrest report, Sulletntrop was charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, fleeing or attempting to flee from a law enforcement officer, speeding, and improperly crossing a divided highway, but a judge hours after his arrest released Sullentrop from jail and said police hadn’t provided enough evidence to substantiate the charges.

Many of Sullentrop’s duties as Senate majority leader have been taken over temporarily by Assistant Majority Leader Larry Alley, also a Republican, according to the report.

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A Kansas radiology technician slept in an RV outside his hospital for over a week after coworkers got sick with COVID-19 and no one else was available to take X-rays

covid-19 hospital floor
  • A Kansas radiology technician slept in an RV parked in his hospital’s parking lot after his coworkers caught COVID-19, the Associated Press reported.
  • He was the only one able to run X-rays, and without the service, the ER was at risk of closing. 
  • Hospitals all across the country are facing challenges as COVID-19 cases surge. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A radiology technician at a Kansas hospital had to sleep in an RV in the parking lot for over a week after his coworkers got sick with COVID-19 last month, the Associated Press reported. 

Eric Lewallen had to be on-site at Rush County Memorial Hospital in La Crosse, Kansas, in case anyone needed an X-ray since he was the only one left who would be able to do it, so he slept in the RV. 

“To keep a critical access hospital open, you have to have X-ray and lab functioning,” Lewallen told the AP. “If one of those go down, you go on diversion and you lose your ER at that point. We don’t want that to happen, especially for the community.”

Hospitals across Kansas, alongside much of the US, are facing obstacles as they work to provide care during the latest surge of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

On Sunday, the COVID-19 Tracking Project reported 101,487 people were currently hospitalized with the novel coronavirus in the US. 

So far, the US has recorded about 15 million COVID-19 infections with over 283,500 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. 

The AP reported the situation has hit rural parts of the country especially hard. As cases surge, it leaves some of the smaller hospitals in these areas unable to send many patients to larger hospitals since they, too, are overburdened. 

Other states have taken different approaches to ease hospital strain. In Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker announced on Monday that starting at the end of the week, hospitals would have to “curtail” elective procedures to free up space. 

In Pennsylvania,  Gov. Tom Wolf warned that hospitals could be overburdened as well. 

However, Lisa Davis, the director of the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health told The Philadelphia Inquirer some of that burden could be eased if some patients were treated at home. 

“I don’t in any way want to refute the governor,” she said. “The projections are that we will need all the hospital capacity in the state. But what we’re finding with our rural hospitals is that they are treating more COVID-19 patients at home so the really sick ones can be in the hospital.”

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