While fatalities were down on highways, the total number of traffic crashes and injuries were up. Boating crashes and injuries were both down from 2016. There were no boating accident fatalities either year, and there was one drowning statewide in both 2016 and 2017. It should be noted that driving and boating while intoxicated arrests as well as drug arrests were all up in 2017 over last year. See the fact box within this story for specific numbers.

Eight people died in traffic crashes during the 2017 Labor Day holiday weekend, according to a press release from the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Last year, there were 20 fatalities. The 2017 counting period for the Labor Day holiday ran from 6 p.m., Friday, Sept. 1, through 11:59 p.m., Monday, Sept. 4, 2017. 

While fatalities were down on highways, the total number of traffic crashes and injuries were up. Boating crashes and injuries were both down from 2016. There were no boating accident fatalities either year, and there was one drowning statewide in both 2016 and 2017. It should be noted that driving and boating while intoxicated arrests as well as drug arrests were all up in 2017 over last year. See the fact box within this story for specific numbers.

Of the eight traffic crash fatalities troopers investigated, three occurred in the Troop E, Poplar Bluff area; two occurred in the Troop A, Lee’s Summit area; and one fatality occurred in each of the following areas: Troop C, Weldon Spring; Troop F, Jefferson City area; and Troop G, Willow Springs area.

One fatality occurred during the counting period on Friday, Sept. 1, 2017. Cheryl J. Ashton, 60, of Owensville died when the vehicle she was driving traveled off the right side of the roadway and she overcorrected. The vehicle then returned to the roadway, went off the left side of the roadway, struck a road sign and a bridge railing. The vehicle then became airborne, struck the ground and a tree, and then caught fire. Major Eric Wilbanks, acting Gasconade County Coroner, pronounced Ashton dead at the scene of the crash. The crash occurred on Missouri Route B north of Missouri Route CC in Gasconade County. Ashton was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.

Seven people died in traffic crashes on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017. Sasha N. Tallant, 19, of Portageville, Mo., died when the vehicle she was driving ran off the right side of the roadway and she overcorrected. The vehicle then ran off the left side of the road and overturned. Pemiscot County Coroner Jim Brimhall pronounced Tallant dead at the scene. The crash occurred on the East Outer Road north of Hayti, MO, in Pemiscot County. Tallant was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.

Justin A. Young, 36, of Poplar Bluff and Wendy L. Brooks, 45, of Boaz, Ky., died when the vehicle Young was driving crossed the center line and hit the vehicle Brooks was driving head-on. Ripley County Coroner Michael Jackson pronounced Young and Brooks dead at the scene. The crash occurred on U.S. Highway 160, east of Doniphan in Ripley County. It is unknown whether or not Young was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. Brooks and the three passengers in her vehicle were wearing their seat belts. The three passengers in Brooks’ vehicle sustained serious injuries in the crash. 

Zachary D. Henson, 20, of Mountain Grove, Mo., died when the driver of the vehicle in which he was a passenger attempted to pass on a blind curve and encountered a vehicle coming from the opposite direction. The driver then swerved back into the correct lane, overcorrected, ran off the right side of the roadway, and overturned. Dr. Ryan Biggers, Cox South Medical Center, pronounced Hensen dead at the hospital. The crash occurred on Missouri Highway N west of Mountain Grove, Mo., in Wright County. Henson was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash; he was ejected from the vehicle. The driver of the vehicle was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash and was ejected; he sustained serious injuries in the crash.

Johannes Van Gerwen, 63, of Lake St. Louis died when the motorcycle he was operating failed to negotiate a curve in the roadway and traveled off the left side. The motorcycle then struck a traffic barrier and a tree. Emergency medical services personnel pronounced Van Gerwen dead at the scene. The crash occurred on Missouri Highway 94 west of the Klondike Park boat ramp entrance. Van Gerwen was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.

Francisco M. Corchado, 32, of Kansas City, Kan. died after he was struck by a vehicle while he was walking in the roadway. Jackson County Medical Examiner Steve Simmons pronounced Corchado dead at the scene. The crash occurred on Interstate 435 south of the 52.8-mile marker in Clay County.

Jeffrey M. Koontz, 39, of Council Bluffs, Iowa, died after he was struck by three separate vehicles while he was in the roadway. Jackson County Medical Examiner Steve Simmons pronounced Koontz dead at the scene. The crash occurred on Interstate 70 east of Northwest Woods Chapel Road in Jackson County. 

There were no traffic fatalities reported on Sunday, Sept. 3, or Monday, Sept. 4, 2017.

One person is believed to have drowned Monday, Sept. 4, 2017, in the Mississippi River at the 220-mile marker near Portage Des Sioux. Emergency personnel continue to search. No further information is available at this time. 

There were no boating fatalities reported over the 2017 Labor Day holiday weekend.

NOTE: The fatality statistics in this news release could change if late deaths occur, if other departments report fatal traffic/boating crashes after this news release was published, or if a fatality is determined to be caused by a medical condition rather than traffic/boating incident.

Troop F & Operation C.A.R.E.

Troop F - which includes among others the tri-county Lake of the Ozarks region of Camden, Miller and Morgan counties - participated in Operation C.A.R.E. (Crash Awareness & Reduction Effort) from Friday, Sept.1, 2017, through Monday, Sept. 4, 2017, meaning every available officer was on the road enforcing traffic laws and assisting motorists. Troop F investigated 50 traffic crashes that included eight injuries and one fatality. Troopers made 11 DWI arrests and 12 drug arrests.  

Troopers assigned to Lake of the Ozarks worked extended shifts of 12 hours during the Labor Day weekend. There were zero boating fatalities over the 2017 Labor Day holiday period in Troop F. Troopers investigated four boating crashes involving two injuries. There were no reported drownings. Troopers arrested seven people for boating while intoxicated.   

“Even though the last major holiday period of the summer has ended, we want to urge motorists and boaters to continue to drive safely whether it’s on the highways or waterways,” said Captain Turner. “Our troopers work very hard to keep the motoring and boating public safe.”