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MSHP reports Labor Day weekend accidents

A car ran off Stillman Road and plunged into a private lake on Friday morning, before the official Labor Day count began. (Dan Schunks)

Statewide accidents up, but Parkland relatively unscathed

DAN SCHUNKS, dschunks@dailyjournalonline.com

The Missouri State Highway Patrol reported several accidents, including a fatality, in the days leading up to the Labor Day holiday. Aside from a Friday accident that found a car submerged in a lake, the Labor Day weekend, locally, was comparatively sedate by patrol standards.

A one-car accident on Stillman Road in St. Francois County near Frankclay, resulted in a submerged vehicle and a runaway driver.

At a little past 9 a.m. on Friday, a Ford sedan reportedly driven by Brandon Hernandez left the road and lost the front bumper traveling across a ditch, through a fence, down a hill in a field, and after making a hard right turn, came to rest in a lake owned by Beverly Vurgess.

The car immediately began to sink, causing Hernandez to flee from the driver’s side window and run from the scene. An unidentified female passenger also climbed out of the driver’s window but was apprehended by the Missouri State Highway Patrol and taken into custody at the scene.

The St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department K9 was used to attempt to track Hernandez but was unsuccessful in the pursuit. Hernandez is a white male with a shaved head, and at the time of the accident was wearing khaki shorts, no shirt, and was last seen headed toward Irondale.

A Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper processes an accident in which a car was freshly-towed from a lake near Frankclay. (Dan Schunks)

Responding to the incident was the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department, the St. Francois County Ambulance District, and the Bismarck Fire Department.

The car sustained serious damage and was taken from the scene by Marler’s Towing.

Later, the Missouri State Highway Patrol reported a one-vehicle accident at 10:50 p.m. Friday that resulted in serious injuries.

Jason P. Boldt, 44, of High Ridge, was driving a 2014 Dodge Ram 2500 on County Line Drive south of Stone Mountain Drive in St. Francois County when the pickup truck traveled off the road, overcorrected, returned to the road and flipped.

Two High Ridge juveniles in the truck, ages 11 and 15, were reported as not wearing seat belts and were seriously injured. They were taken to SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, one juvenile by Arch Air and the other by Lifenet Air. Boldt was not injured.

The truck was a total loss and was removed from the scene by Marler’s Towing.

An accident at Lake Hanna near west Lakeview resulted in a serious injury to a UTV rider in St. Francois County.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol report, at 5:10 p.m. on Saturday, Elizabeth J. Polito, 47, of Bridgeton, was driving a UTV when she ran off the road and flipped. Polito, who was reportedly not wearing safety devices, sustained serious injuries and was taken to Mercy Hospital South by St. Francois County ambulance.

The UTV, a 2021 Kawasaki, received minor damage and was driven from the scene.

A two-vehicle accident resulted in a minor injury to a driver Friday morning at 5:55 a.m.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, a 2015 Jeep Cherokee driven by Mattilynn E. Psalmonds, 22, of Park Hills, was hit from behind by a 2012 Ford Fusion driven by Haley E. Gillam, 24, of Cadet. Both vehicles were northbound on US 67, just south of Pappin Road in southern Jefferson County.

Gillam was transported to Mercy Hospital Jefferson by Valle Ambulance. Psalmonds was reportedly uninjured.

The Ford Fusion was removed from the scene by Buckley’s towing. The Jeep Cherokee was driven from the scene.

A one-vehicle accident on southbound Route O resulted in a fatality on Thursday night.

A 2019 Ford F-150, driven by Justin T. Lea, 51, of Ste. Genevieve, traveled off the left side of the road and struck multiple trees, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol. The victim was pronounced dead on the scene at 9:40 p.m. by Ste. Genevieve County Coroner Eric Basler. Lea was reportedly not wearing a seat belt.

The vehicle was listed as totaled and taken from the scene by Ste. Gen County Towing.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol reported a two-car collision at the intersection of Highway K and Hillsboro Road that resulted in injuries.

A 2014 Kia Rio driven north on Hillsboro Road Thursday evening by Benjamin Kornmiller, 27, of St. Peters, failed to yield for a stop sign and traveled into the path of a 2017 Jeep Wrangler driven by Patricia Johnson, 54, from Bonne Terre, who was traveling east on Highway K. The Cherokee struck the left side of the Kia resulting in serious injuries to Kornmiller and moderate injuries to Johnson.

Kornmiller was taken to Mercy Hospital St. Louis by Air Evac, while Johnson was transported by St. Francois Ambulance to Parkland Health Center.

The Kia was listed as being a total loss and the Jeep Wrangler sustained moderate damage. Both vehicles were towed from the scene by Marler’s Towing.

A two-car accident Thursday at 4 p.m. resulted in minor injuries to one of the drivers.

A 2018 Toyota RAV4 driven by Joyce F. Alexander, 82, changed from lane 2 to lane 1 on southbound US 67 at Hildebrecht Road in St. Francois County. A 2015 Kia Forte, driven by Nicholas R. Ancira, 24, struck the left rear of the RAV4 with the front right of the Kia according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Ancira sustained minor injuries and was taken by private conveyance to Parkland Health Center in Farmington.

Both vehicles were taken from the scene by Marler’s Towing.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol reported a one-car accident that resulted in moderate injuries to the driver on Aug. 29.

Lorraine C. Berger, 61, of Farmington was reportedly traveling north on Highway. D when the vehicle traveled off the right side of the road, hit a fence and then hit a tree. The driver was reportedly not wearing a seat belt and sustained moderate injuries. She was taken to Parkland Health Center-Farmington by St. Francois County ambulance.

The 2010 Ford Focus was listed as totaled and taken from the scene by Marler’s Towing.

A local resident sustained minor injuries as a passenger in a two-vehicle accident in St. Charles County on Thursday, according to the patrol.

Donna M. Rick, 56, of Park Hills, was a passenger in a 2015 Ford F-150 driven by Ronda McDowell, 58, of Florissant, Mo. Their vehicle was traveling west on I-64 at 2:38 p.m. when it was hit from behind by a 2023 Grand Jeep Cherokee driven by Blake A. Lloyd, 32, of Troy.

Rick and McDowell both received minor injuries and were transported to St. Joseph West Lake St. Louis by St. Charles County ambulance. Blake was uninjured. All involved were reportedly wearing seat belts.

Damage to the 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee was extensive while the Ford F-150 sustained minor damage. The vehicles were towed from the scene by Crash City Towing.

Statewide Patrol Roundup

Across Missouri, 12 people died in traffic crashes, no one died in a boating crash, and no one drowned during the 2023 Labor Day holiday weekend. The 2023 counting period for the Labor Day holiday was from 6 p.m., Friday, September 1, through 11:59 p.m., Monday, September 4.

The patrol investigated nine of the traffic fatalities. The Joplin (MO) Police Department investigated two traffic fatalities, and Springfield (MO) Police Department investigated one traffic fatality during the holiday weekend counting period.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol reported preliminary statistics following enforcement activity during 2023 Labor Day holiday that included 306 crashes, 146 injuries, 9 fatalities, 119 DWIs and 19 drug Arrests.

The patrol reported preliminary boating statistics that included 11 crashes, two injuries, no fatalities, two BWIs and no drownings or drug arrests.

During the 2022 counting period, the patrol investigated 286 traffic crashes, which included 119 injuries and four of the seven fatalities. Troopers made 121 arrests for driving while intoxicated last year. Also, over the Labor Day holiday 2022, troopers investigated eight boating crashes involving one fatality and five injuries; and arrested five people for boating while intoxicated on the state’s rivers and lakes. One person drowned over the 2022 Labor Day holiday weekend.

Troopers investigated nine of the 12 fatal traffic crashes over the 2023 Labor Day holiday weekend. Two fatal traffic crashes occurred in each of the Troop B, Macon, MO, Troop D, Springfield, MO, and Troop H, St. Joseph, MO, areas. One fatal traffic crash each occurred in the Troop A, Lee’s Summit, MO, Troop E, Poplar Bluff, MO, and Troop G, Willow Springs, MO, areas.

Three people died during the counting period on Friday.

Robert J. Lansing, 73, of Quincy, Illinois, died when the vehicle in which he was a passenger changed lanes when it was unsafe and was struck by another vehicle. Lansing’s vehicle then slid off the left side of the road and overturned. Lansing was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. Shelby County Coroner Corey Eagan pronounced Lansing deceased at the scene. The crash occurred U.S. Highway 36 west of Clarence. The driver and another passenger in the vehicle both sustained serious injuries; they were wearing their seat belts at the time of the crash. The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, Clarence Fire Department, Shelbina Fire Department, Salt River Ambulance, Macon County Sheriff’s Office, Macon County Ambulance, and Macon County Rural Fire Department responded to the scene.

Tomas R. Ramos, 47, of El Paso, Texas, died when the pickup truck he was driving failed to negotiate a curve in the road, traveled off the south side of the road, and struck an embankment. The pickup truck continued east in the ditch then struck another embankment with the front of the vehicle. Ramos was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the vehicle. The vehicle rotated counterclockwise and came to rest in the ditch facing northwest. The crash occurred in Buchanan County on Mitchell Road east of St Joseph. Buchanan County Medical Examiner Major Thomas Cates pronounced Ramos dead at the scene. The Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene.

Zane Warner, 28, of Grandview died when a pickup truck turned left in front of the motorcycle he was driving. Warner’s motorcycle then struck the side of the pickup truck. Warner was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, which occurred in Cass County on U.S. Highway 58 west of Interstate 49. Paramedic Liberty Wocester pronounced Warner dead. Belton Police Department and Belton Fire Department responded to the scene.

Four people died Saturday, during the counting period.

John E. Wiatt, 70, of Lampe, died when the driver of a southbound vehicle struck another southbound vehicle before sliding into the northbound lane and striking Wiatt’s vehicle. Wiatt was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, which occurred in Stone County on Missouri Highway 13 in Kimberling City. Stone County Coroner John Cunnyngham pronounced Wiatt dead at the scene. The driver of the vehicle that struck Wiatt’s vehicle sustained serious injuries at the time of the crash; he was wearing a seat belt. The driver of the third vehicle sustained minor injuries; he was wearing a seat belt.

A 5-year-old girl from Doniphan died when the vehicle she was in ran off the right side of the road, struck an embankment, and overturned. The child was reportedly not in a car seat at the time of the accident. The crash occurred in Ripley County on County Road N-2 south of Oxly. Deputy Coroner Chad Haywood pronounced the 5-year-old dead at the scene. The driver of the vehicle was uninjured. It is unknown if the driver was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.

The Joplin Police Department investigated the remaining two Saturday fatalities. No further details were available at press time.

One person died in a traffic crash on Sunday. Seger V. Mace, 18, of Coin, IA, died when the motorcycle he was driving failed to yield to a vehicle at an intersection. The driver of the other vehicle attempted to avoid a crash and partially ran off the road and began to skid. Mace’s motorcycle began to skid, overturned, and struck the other vehicle’s towed unit before coming to rest on its side. Mace was ejected; he was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. The other vehicle came to a controlled stop in the road. The crash occurred in Nodaway County on Missouri Route C and Railroad Street in Elmo. Dr. Cris Morrow pronounced Mace dead at Clarinda Regional Medical Center. The driver of the other vehicle was uninjured; he was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. The Nodaway County Sheriff’s Office responded at the scene.

Four people died in traffic crashes on Labor Day Monday.

Christopher L. White, 50, of Bethel, died when the all-terrain vehicle he was operating slid of the left side of the road and overturned, ejecting White. White was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. The crash occurred in Shelby County on Shelby County Road 242 southeast of Bethel. Paramedic Time Lacy pronounced White dead at the scene. The Shelby County Sheriff’s Department and Salt River Ambulance responded to the scene.

Chris A. Terrell, 65, of Clarkton, died when the motorcycle he was driving traveled off the right side of the road and overturned. It is unknown whether Terrell was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, which occurred in Carter County on Missouri Highway 21 at U.S. Highway 60. Carter County Coroner Joe Chapman pronounced Terrell dead at the scene. A passenger on Terrell’s motorcycle sustained serious injuries in the crash. It is unknown whether she was wearing a helmet.

Logan D. Mitchell, 21, of Goodman, died when the pickup truck he was driving traveled off the road on a curve and hit a tree. Logan was reportedly not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, which occurred in McDonald County on Missouri Route CC east of McNatt. McDonald County Deputy Coroner Jonathan Fletcher pronounced Mitchell dead at the scene.

The remaining traffic fatality was investigated by the Springfield Police Department. No further details were available at press time.

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