FARMINGTON — It’s been a tough few weeks for emergency personnel. Six fatalities this weekend made things even harder for those who are trained to respond to emergency situations.
“We’re coping,” said St. Francois County Ambulance District Administrator David Tetrault Monday afternoon.
He said they see death and dying every day but there’s only so much even they can take. He said the five-person fatality on Saturday was such a bad accident there was nothing they could do.
In a couple of days, ambulance staff will get together and have a critique and debrief.
Staff will meet with a critical stress debriefing team. Professional counseling will also be offered to those who request it.
Firefighters will have their own critical stress debriefing this week. The Wolf Creek volunteer fire department was assisted by volunteers from Farmington Fire Department.
Assistant Chief Steve Young said the more you talk about it, the better off you are.
Young said it was a direct head-on crash. After they realized the three people in one vehicle had died, they focused on getting the Fultons out of their vehicle. The extrication took 30 to 45 minutes.
He said Gregory Fulton died in the ambulance and Yvonne Fulton died the next day after being flown by Arch Helicopter to St. John’s Mercy Medical Center.
This is the most fatalities they’ve had in a single accident that Young knows of.
He said it is a rough for firefighters to deal with but it is part of their job. He said a couple new firefighters were working their first accident.
Emergency responders said their prayers go out to all of the families of the accident victims.
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, five people were killed late Saturday night when a car crossed the center line and collided with another car on Route 00 near Farmington. The accident occurred about a mile away from Friday’s fatal accident involving a teenager.
St. Francois County Coroner Jim Coplin told the Associated Press there were no skid marks and no witnesses to Saturday’s crash, which happened in an area surrounded by wooded farmland. One of the cars caught fire, but the flames didn’t reach the victims.
The patrol identified the victims as Bessie J. Barker, 59, and her husband, Walter Barker, 57, both of Farmington; Norma Holloway, 60, of Arnold; and Yvonne Fulton, 46, and her husband, Gregory Fulton, 48, both of Farmington.
Coplin said the Barkers and Holloway had attended a high school reunion earlier in the evening in nearby Madison County. Holloway had parked her car at the home of the recently married couple and driven with them, he said. Their car was the one that was driving the wrong way on the highway, according to the patrol, and they were pronounced dead at the scene.
Randy Barker, 39, of Farmington said his recently married brother was a truck driver for more than 30 years, the past 10 for Wal-Mart, and has won awards for his safety record.
The Fultons were returning home from a prayer service at Harvest Christian Centre in Park Hills. They were taken to hospitals, where they died Sunday morning.
Dale Stringer, the pastor at Harvest Christian Centre, said the Fultons were elders at the church and helped care for 30 families, a job that included visiting them in the hospital when they were sick.
“They were both wonderful at that,” he said.
As the church’s parking lot and hospitality director, Gregory Fulton was known to meet worshippers with umbrellas when it was raining and helped carry diaper bags for young parents with babies, Stringer said.
“He was very friendly, very hospitable,” Stringer said. “That was what he was. That was his personality.”
The couple is survived by two adult daughters.
Funeral arrangements for the Barkers and the Fultons are being handled by Follis and Sons Funeral Home in Fredericktown. Arrangements are pending for the Barkers.
Visitation for Gregory and Yvonne Fulton will be 5 to 9 p.m. today at the Harvest Christian Centre. A funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
Wolf Creek Fire Department also responded to Friday’s accident. They were assisted by Farmington firefighters.
In Friday’s accident on Route 00, Fallon N. Foss, of Fredericktown, was killed when she pulled out of a driveway for a mobile home park and drove into the path of a pickup truck driven by David B. Moore, 48, of Bismarck.
Foss died at the scene. Her passenger, Lance S. Bleckler, 19, was flowed by air ambulance to St. Louis University Hospital. Neither had been wearing a seat belt.
Visitation for Foss was held Monday at Follis and Sons Funeral Home. Funeral services were held at 11 a.m. today at Trinity Lutheran Church in Fredericktown.
According to Follis and Sons Funeral Home Web site, Foss enjoyed reading, shopping, spending time with family and friends, and was a poster child for families going through the same surgery she had been through.
Teresa Ressel is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 179 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.