Memorial Day weekend traffic crashes and boat fatality numbers for Missouri are in, and the results are mostly positive, the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) stated in a press release.
Four people died in traffic crashes throughout the 2011 Memorial Day weekend. Last year, six people were killed during the three-day weekend. The MSHP investigated 281 traffic crashes resulting in 127 injuries and three of the fatalities during the counting period of 6 p.m. Friday through 11:59 p.m. Monday.
Three of the fatal crashes occurred on Sunday. Jimmie L. Brown, 59, of Imperial, died when the 2011 Harley Davidson motorcycle he was driving traveled off the east side of the roadway and struck a tree and barbed wire fence. The crash occurred on Missouri Route E south of Belleville Lane in Jefferson County. Brown was pronounced dead at the scene. A passenger on the motorcycle sustained serious injuries and was flown to St. John’s Medical Center.
Bradley M. Harris, 14, of Washington, died when the driver of the motorcycle on which he was a passenger lost control. The 2009 Harley Davidson slid into another lane, the driver was ejected. Harris and the motorcycle were struck by two vehicles. Harris was pronounced dead at St. Johns Medical Center. The driver of the motorcycle sustained moderate injuries in the crash. The drivers of the second and third vehicles involved in the crash were not injured. The crash occurred on Interstate 70 west of Missouri Highway 94 in St. Charles County.
Andrew M. Thomas, 27, of Newton, IA, died when the vehicle he was driving ran off the roadway and struck a guardrail. Thomas was ejected from the vehicle, which then struck the guardrail a second time. The crash occurred at U.S. Highway 54 east and U.S. Highway 63 South in Cole County. Thomas was not wearing his seat belt at the time of the crash. The Jefferson City Police Department investigated the crash.
One fatal traffic crash occurred on Monday, May 30. Terry L. Stutts, 52, of Peculiar, MO, died when the vehicle he was driving crossed the median, rolled several times, and came to rest on the right shoulder of the southbound lanes. The crash occurred on U.S. Highway 71 north of Missouri Route C in Cass County. Stutts was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. A passenger in Stutts’ vehicle was wearing a seat belt; she sustained moderate injuries in the crash. Stutts was pronounced dead at the scene.
During this same time period, 133 people were arrested by the patrol for driving while intoxicated. This is down from the 2010 Memorial Day Weekend, in which the 157 people were arrested for DWI’s. The patrol investigated 270 traffic crashes, resulting in 133 injuries last year.
“We are below 14 percent where we were at last year with driving accidents,” said Captain Tim Hull, director of the patrol's public information and education division.
There were no boating fatalities over the 2011 Memorial Day weekend. However, troopers investigated eight boating crashes involving one injury. One person drowned at the Lake of the Ozarks in a swimming accident. Timothy L. Miller, 39, of St. Louis, drowned while swimming off a dock on Lake of the Ozarks Monday, at the 21.5-mile mark in Salt Hollow Cove in Camden County. Witnesses on a neighboring dock heard the victim yell for help before he went under water and did not resurface. The victim’s body was located by Highway Patrol troopers using sonar. The Mid-County Dive Team recovered the body, and Miller was pronounced dead at the scene. KMOV Ch. 4 and other local news outlets report that Miller was an off-duty firefighter for the city of St. Louis.
“In Missouri we didn’t have any (boating) fatalities last year—there were three drownings and 14 boating accidents, but no boating-related fatalities,” Hull said. “This year fortunately we didn’t have any boating accident fatalities again.”
Troopers also arrested 23 people for boating while intoxicated over the holiday weekend. Hull said that boating while intoxicated, or a BWI, is treated the same in Missouri as a DWI, with .08 being the legal limit. Three people drowned, and 36 people were arrested for boating while intoxicated during last year’s Memorial Day weekend, while 23 were arrested this year.
“I think people are starting to come around to the fact that water is as dangerous as the highway if you aren’t paying attention or are intoxicated,” Hull said. “We would like to see the numbers down to zero. It’s always a step in the right direction when you see the numbers going down.”
The MSHP said that the above holiday totals do not include one drowning and one vehicle fatality, both of which occurred on private property. Fatality statistics could change if late deaths occur, if other departments report fatal traffic crashes after press time or if a fatality is determined to be caused by a medical, rather than traffic, incident.