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Highway Patrol Reports Only One Fatality During Christmas Holiday

Local Crashes Result In Injuries

The Missouri State Highway Patrol reports one person died during the Christmas holiday counting period – from 6 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 24, to 11:59 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 25.
During this year’s shorter, 30-hour counting period, the Patrol investigated 53 traffic crashes, which included 18 injuries and the one fatality. In addition, troopers arrested eight people for driving while intoxicated. There were no boating crashes or drownings during the Christmas 2013 counting period.
Although not falling within the window of the official holiday reporting period, the Highway Patrol investigated another fatal crash in Troop E, Poplar Bluff, on Christmas Eve. The victim of that wreck has ties to Ava.
Mary A. Fortner, 68, of Parma, died at 8:36 p.m. Dec. 24, at Southeast Healthcare in Dexter following a 5:40 p.m. wreck in New Madrid County.
Mrs. Fortner is an aunt of Jared Smith, of Ava.
The Highway Patrol said Mrs. Fortner was traveling north on Highway 153, one mile north of Tallapoosa when her 2005 Pontiac Montana van ran off the right side of the roadway, overturning and striking a tree.
She was transported by ambulance to Southeast Healthcare in Dexter where she was pronounced dead by Coroner George Delisle.
Last year’s 102-hour counting period included six fatalities and 342 injuries. Over the 2012 Christmas holiday, troopers investigated 239 traffic crashes and arrested 130 people for driving while intoxicated.
This year’s single official holiday fatality also occurred on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, in the Troop F, Jefferson City, area.
Kenneth E. Parsons, 63, of Osage Beach, died when the vehicle he was driving crossed the center line, ran off the left side of the roadway, struck an embankment, became airborne, struck a tree, and overturned. Parsons was partially ejected. The vehicle came to rest off the roadway on its top.
Miller County Coroner Rick Callahan pronounced Parsons dead at the scene. He was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.
A passenger in Parsons’ vehicle sustained serious injuries and was taken to University Hospital by Staff for Life. She was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. The crash occurred on Midway Road just north of Cave Road in Miller County.
A Christmas Eve crash at 10:30 p.m. four miles west of Ava on Highway 76 resulted in moderate injuries to the driver.
The Highway Patrol reported Christopher A. Engelhardt, 31, of Ava, was taken by ambulance to Cox South Hospital, Springfield, after his 2000 Chevrolet Cavalier ran off the roadway in a curve, overturned and struck a tree.
A passenger, Tiffany R. Engelhardt, 23, Ava, was treated at the scene for minor injuries.
Neither the driver nor the occupant was wearing a seatbelt, according to the investigating officer, Tpr. Justin Piccinino, who was assisted by Sgt. Charlie Hogue.
A two-vehicle crash on Dec. 23, on Highway O at Goodhope, in western Douglas County, resulted in serious injuries to an Ava woman who was a passenger in one of the vehicles.
The Highway Patrol said Betsy G. Conrad, 60, was taken by ambulance to Cox South Hospital with serious injuries following the head-on crash that occurred at 4:55 p.m.
Conrad was a passenger in a 2003 Ford Ranger driven by Garry W. Burton, 58, of Oldfield. Burton was also transported to Cox South by ambulance with minor injuries.
That wreck occurred when a 2000 Chevrolet Silverado pickup driven by Michael E. Thurman, 50, of Seymour, turned into the path of the southbound Burton vehicle, striking it head-on.
Thurman was not injured, but was arrested for felony driving while intoxicated, felony assault in the 2nd degree, careless and imprudent driving, and no insurance.
He was taken to the Douglas County Jail, and later released, according to the report.
That wreck was investigated by Tpr. John Roberts, of Troop G.
Both drivers were wearing seatbelts but the occupant, Conrad, was not, the Troop G report stated.
The Patrol encourages motorists to protect themselves from all types of hazardous drivers by making sure everyone in the vehicle is properly restrained in a seat belt or child restraint. Click It 4 Life!
Note: The fatality statistics in this news release could change if late deaths occur, or if other departments report fatal traffic crashes after this news release was sent out.