A single-car accident in rural Missouri Saturday afternoon took the life of 2012 SM East graduate Mark Harken and injured four other northeast Johnson County natives. Harken was 20.
Harken was driving a 2000 Ford Explorer on a county road near Clinton, Mo., around 2:15 p.m. when he lost control of the vehicle and it veered off the left side of the road, striking a group of trees and overturning. One passenger, Clayton Miller, 18, of Kansas City, Mo., was killed. Four other passengers — David Draxler, 19, of Prairie Village; Lukas Fleming, 20, of Prairie Village; Gage Hamilton, 20, of Overland Park; and Evan Westhoff, 20, of Fairway — were seriously injured in the accident. Benton County Sheriff’s Department investigators report that Westhoff was not wearing a seatbelt, and was fully ejected from the vehicle. Fleming and Hamilton were wearing their seatbelts, according to the accident investigators, who could not determine whether Draxler was wearing his.
Draxler, Fleming, Hamilton and Westhoff were taken by LifeFlight to three separate hospitals. Draxler and Westhoff were taken to Research Medical Center and Fleming was taken to Overland Park Regional Hospital.
According to his Facebook profile, Harken had recently started working at H&H Color Lab, a photo shop, in Raymore, Mo. He attended Prairie Elementary, and was involved in cross country and robotics at SM East.
On his profile, Hamilton lists his occupation as a Combat Engineer in the U.S. Army. Westhoff is student at the University of Kansas, and Fleming is studying administrative justice at Johnson County Community College.
The accident took place near the Benton County/Henry County line, just west of Harry S Truman State Park.