Man killed in ATV accident identified

Published On: Feb 16 2014 04:16:34 PM CST   Updated On: Feb 17 2014 06:49:47 PM CST
Wichita, Kan. -

One man has died and another is injured after an ATV accident in south Wichita.

Sgt. Nathan Gibbs says the 25-year-old victim was pronounced dead at the scene. He was wearing a helmet. The injured person is a 21-year-old male. He was transported a local hospital for treatment of minor injuries. A third rider did not have any injuries. 

The family has confirmed Philipp "Doobie" Wellemeyer died in the crash.  They said he was more than the ATV crash, more than a few words.

It happened when three ATV's were being driven in the Big Ditch near East 71st street South and Cider road around 2:30 p.m. Gibbs said it appears the riders did not see a drainage ditch that feeds into the larger portion of the ditch. 

Deputies say other people were in the area riding also but they were not able to find them.

"It's a perfect spot for it. You've got the hills, you've got the woods, you've got the trails," said Robert Patrick, who lives nearby.

It is against the law to operating a vehicle in the big ditch area. The accident is under investigation.

Patrick says some of the riders don't even realize they're breaking the law, because it is legal to ride along the nearby river.

"And they forget to stay along the river, they come up along the Big Ditch," said Patrick. He says it's been a problem since he moved in. "I originally come in here 31 years ago. and that whole 31 years we've had problems with ATVs and large four-wheeled vehicles coming into the Big Ditch."

But it's gotten worse since the city put in a nearby canoe launch. While the signs say no ATVs or motorcycles allowed, Patrick says it's a common starting point for riders.

"So that's where your people go and park and take their ATVs and head out," he said.

Others, he says, don't bother going to the river. They just tear down fences along the big ditch.

"One gentleman that lives down the street from me, he has had them cut across his back yard," said Patrick, who has a large metal cable protecting his backyard.

Neighbors can call police, he says, but there's not much officers can do. The cars can't follow the ATVs and motorcycles.

"Because the county does not have the manpower to patrol this all the time," said Patrick. "They come in on the weekends, you know? And it's impossible to go in there. Plus you can't take a car back into those woods so its pretty easy for an ATV or a motorcycle to hide."