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Ark City teen killed in accident in Kay County


Rhett Lathers, 17, of Arkansas City High School died in a single-vehicle accident in Kay County Tuesday night that left another passenger in critical condition.


The driver, Walker L. Moulton, 18, of Winfield, Kansas was suspected of drunk driving and is in jail related to the fatal crash. The one-vehicle crash occurred before 11 p.m. on North Enterprise Road, south of E. Judo Road, several miles northeast of Newkirk. There were four occupants in a 2000 Jeep Wrangler.


According to the Cowley CourierTraveler, The Oklahoma Highway Patrol crash report stated that Moulton was not injured. Moulton is a 2021 graduate of ACHS.


Reports also state that Moulton was driving under the influence. A spokesperson for the Kay County District Court said Wednesday morning that Moulton was being held in the Kay County Detention Center related to the accident but had not been formally charged.


Passenger Logan Bay, 18, of Ark City, was taken to Wesley Medical Center in Wichita in critical condition with head injuries. Passenger Harley Sparks, 18, of Ark City, was treated and released at William Newton Hospital in Winfield.


According to the OHP report, none of the occupants were wearing seat belts. The accident occurred on a gravel, two-lane road. Lathers was taken with multiple injuries to an emergency room in Ponca City, where he was pronounced dead, according to the report.


Lathers was a linebacker on the ACHS football team and previous teammate of Moulton’s. Ballard said district officials met with the team early Wednesday. Parents of students were notified by text early Wednesday morning and told that the high school, which is closed today and the rest of the week during Arkalalah, would be open at 9:30 a.m. for students who needed to process the tragedy.


Ballard added that students are invited to visit with counselors and the team will be reaching out to other students. With students out of school this week, the district is sending out a letter about the incident and making counseling available to all student households.


“Nothing lessens the impact of that type of tragedy, but perhaps we can offer support and help for the kids most impacted by it,” he said.


Lathers was very involved in sports and other school activities, which gave him a lot of connections with the student body, according to Ballard. Many people are being affected by his death, including faculty and staff.


“We’re impacted and saddened by the loss of any life,” Ballard said. “But when a young person is looking at the horizon of all the things coming forth and is brought to such an abrupt ending, it compels us to ask once again, why?”


The loss has double impact on the Bulldog family amid the Arkalalah celebration and the approaching holidays, Ballard added.


“It has been a difficult night and morning,” he said.