Report cites excessive speed as cause of July accident that killed 2 with NEJC ties

Mark Harken
Mark Harken
The Missouri State Highway Patrol’s official report from the July crash that killed two young men with northeast Johnson County ties finds that excessive speed was to blame for the accident.

2012 SM East graduate Mark Harken was driving a 2000 Ford Explorer carrying four of his friends on a rural asphalt road in unincorporated Benton County around 2:15 p.m. July 5 when he lost control of the vehicle and struck a group of trees. The investigating officer’s report on the incident says Harken crested a hill and then crossed the center line of the road, running off the left side of the roadway. The driver’s side of the car struck the trees first. The vehicle then flipped over and came to a rest on its top.

Harken and his friend Clayton Miller, a Kansas City, Mo., resident who was a lifeguard at the Paul Henson YMCA in Prairie Village, were both killed in the accident.

One of the surviving passengers told the investigating officer the car hit a bump and lost control. Another said the car was “going too fast.” The report indicates that alcohol use did not play a role in the accident, nor did distracted or inattentive driving.

The speed limit on the road where the accident occurred is 35 miles per hour.