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JOHNSON COUNTY, KS (KCTV) -
A 25-year-old Gardner woman is dead following a single-vehicle rollover accident. Authorities are investigating whether texting was a factor.
Tamiqua S. Kendricks also was not wearing a seat belt.
The wreck happened about 8:45 a.m. Wednesday on southbound Interstate 35 just south of 167th Street near the New Century Airport. The roadway reopened about 11:50 a.m.
The Kansas Highway Patrol said it appears she was texting just minutes before the crash, but they will do a more thorough investigation to determine if texting is to blame.
"She apparently was in a conversation, and very well might have been distracted," said Trooper Howard Dickinson. "She has been texting prior to the crash, within a few minutes. There will be a lot more investigation, but she was doing it just prior to the crash."
The driver lost control of her 2002 Ford Explorer veered off the highway and over-corrected. The SUV then traveled across both lanes of traffic and went off the right side of the road. The Explorer rolled and landed in the embankment, troopers said.
When troopers arrived on the scene, they immediately located Kendricks, who had been ejected. Because she had a child car seat, officers were afraid that her child may have also been thrown during the crash.
Authorities quickly searched the area, and even brought out a helicopter to help look for possibly an injured child that may have wandered away in the fields nearby, or been ejected during the crash.
But once officers were able to contact the woman's family, they learned that her 5-year-old son was not traveling with her at the time of the accident, and he was located safely somewhere else.
Troopers said the mother was not wearing a seatbelt, and they want to remind drivers it is the No. 1 killer of drivers in Kansas and Missouri.
They also said if people are belted in, they have a 65 percent chance of surviving the powerful impact of a rollover accident.
"Just imagine how much force you are going at 70 mph and spin it. That will increase amount of force when you hit the ground. Our bodies are just not made to survive that kind of impact," Dickinson said.
Click here for more on distracted driving and its dangers.
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