By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | Wednesday, March 06, 2013
Four lanes of interstate highway were shut down for much of late Tuesday and early Wednesday morning after a truck driver called 911 and said a suspicious package in his cab might be a bomb.
According to the Harvey County, KS, Sheriff’s Office, a truck driver hauling merchandise for Hobby Lobby from Oklahoma to Colorado pulled over near mile marker 35 on Interstate 135 near Hesston, KS. The driver called 911 at 7:45 p.m., and told dispatchers someone had placed a suspicious package in his truck’s cab. The driver also said someone had called him to tell him about an explosive device hooked to his truck.
Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton said sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene, where they remained for the next seven hours while investigators with the Wichita Bomb Squad were called to the scene.
With four lanes of traffic shut down between 10 p.m. and 2:15 a.m., traffic backed up near Hesston, which is 36 miles north of Wichita.
No explosives were found, and investigators discovered that no one had called the driver, Walton said. Investigators said the driver told dispatchers he was on Interstate 70.
After talking with the driver, Walton said the Kansas Highway Patrol didn’t want to allow the driver back on the road. After consulting with the driver’s boss, Walton said the driver was transported to a local hospital for a mental evaluation. The driver remained hospitalized Wednesday, Walton said.
“There are no criminal charges,” Walton said. “He really did believe in his mind there were explosives in the truck. He believed somebody was out to get him. That’s just mental; it’s hard to make a criminal case out of that.
“I know there are people upset that there are no criminal charges,” Walton said. “But there was nothing to charge him with.”
The driver’s boss told Walton the driver was “fired,” Walton said. “Do not let him in the truck,” Walton told Land Line, recounting the words of the driver’s supervisor.
Walton took to the county’s page on Facebook.com to defend his decision and to clarify issues surrounding Tuesday night’s incident. Walton said he’s received complaints from the public after he called for the interstate to be shut down.
“If I was wrong, and there was something in there, I would be in much worse shape,” Walton told Land Line Wednesday afternoon. “But you have to err on the side of caution in these kinds of situations.”
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