A Linn Creek woman succumbed to injuries months after being originally hospitalized from a wreck at the Key Largo Road intersection with Highway 54. Bertha Sallee passed away on June 3. "It is no doubt that the accident is what led to this," Sallee's son-in-law, Steve Baldwin, said. According to Baldwin, Sallee was in great health and very fit for her 82 years of age before the March 12 accident.
Sallee's injuries were extensive including severe contusions to her brain, a broken C2 vertebrate, along with broken ribs, pelvis, hip and ankle. Fluid was on her lungs from the force of the accident and her other ankle was severely sprained. Sallee also suffered from various bruises and cuts.
Sallee was one of five victims who sustained injuries from the March 12 accident. She was the only one transported to a hospital. According to her family, she was med flighted to Columbia and spent 15 days in the ICU. Over the next few months, she was in and out of hospitals and a skilled nursing home.
Family members believes her death is the result of the injuries she suffered in the accident in March, but since her death occurred more than 30 days after the accident, her death is not officially considered a result of the accident. According to Robert Lynch of the Missouri Department of Transportation, a new public hearing is set for June 14 at Osage Beach City Hall to discuss the Key Largo intersection. Residents will then be able to hear the official solution that MoDOT is proposing for the intersection.
“After our community briefing on April 25, we took a number of suggestions into consideration and formulated that input into a plan we believe will improve safety for drivers traveling on and crossing Route 54,” said Central District Traffic Engineer Trent Brooks. “We also looked at how any changes we made to the Key Largo intersection would affect other nearby intersections along the route. Now we’re coming back to the public with a proposed safety solution for the three intersections between Routes KK and Y. As before, we want to get input from motorists who frequently use those intersections so we can make the best decisions possible.”
Baldwin plans on attending the next public hearing and questions why this intersection is so problematic, "Highway 54 has multiple intersections like that. You do not hear about problems. Why is this one different?" he asked. Baldwin knows that there may not be one specific answer to this problem, but knows that something needs to be done. "Why does Highway 54 have to be 65 mph through there?" he asked. Baldwin wonders if a speed limit change would lead to a decrease in accidents along Key Largo.
According to MoDOT, "Based on feedback from that meeting, MoDOT is proposing additional safety improvements to three intersections on Route 54 between Routes KK and Y. The proposed solution allows traffic to turn right in and right out only at all three intersections."
Page 2 of 2 - The family's main objective by coming forward is to simply, "make the community aware there is a problem." The public is invited to the June 14 open-house meeting from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at 1000 City Parkway in Osage Beach. MoDOT staff will be available during the meeting to receive public input and address any concerns. For more information, the public is asked to contact Brooks at (573) 751-7692 or MoDOT's Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-888-ASK MODOT (275-6636).