Christopher Ellis

31-year-old was candidate for Neosho County Commission

GREG LOWER

ERIE – A candidate for Neosho County Commission died Sunday after sustaining fatal injuries in a motorcycle-car collision north of Erie.

Christopher Ellis, 31, Erie, was pronounced dead at Miami County Medical Center late Sunday afternoon, the Kansas Highway Patrol reported. He was flown by helicopter from the scene of the accident to Miami County.

The wreck occurred at 1:45 pm Sunday on US-59 at 170th Road, three miles north of Erie. A Parsons woman, Barbara Clingan, 79, was transported to Labette Health with suspected minor injuries.

The KHP reported that Ellis was not wearing a helmet.

Ellis was northbound on US-59 driving a 2009 Harley-Davidson motorcycle, returning from an errand in Erie to his home north of Erie. Clingan was southbound driving a 2013 Buick and crossed into Ellis’ lane for unknown reasons, and the KHP reported that Ellis struck the passenger side of Clingan’s car. Clingan was wearing a seatbelt.

KHP Trooper Rick Wingate said the accident is still under investigation and any possible criminal charges would be filed by the county attorney.

Ellis was the Republican challenger for the 2nd District Neosho County Commission seat currently held by David Orr, a Democrat. Neither candidate had opposition in the primary election earlier this month.

Neosho County Republican Party chairman Don Alexander said he has never had to replace a candidate during an election, but he understands it to be the same procedure as replacing one in office.

“It’s a sad day for all of us,” he said. 

The seated Republican precinct officials from the district will nominate a replacement at a convention tentatively set for 6:30 pm Sept. 2 at the courthouse in Erie.

Unofficially, Alexander said four precinct officials are seated in the district. These will be the ones who were already in office during the primary election, not the ones chosen. Alexander said there are 29 or 30 Republican precinct officers countywide, but he should have 40 after the next reorganization meeting.

Orr said he was devastated and his love goes to Ellis’ wife and family.

“I’m just flat mourning the death of a great competitor,” he said. “It’s not what I wanted to see in politics.”

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