PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (Dec. 27, 2010) — Despite severe weather elsewhere in Missouri and adjoining states, Pulaski County largely escaped traffic crashes during the Christmas holiday counting period. The county’s only wreck was a non-injury crash on Friday morning which closed the left lane of eastbound I-44 at mile marker 157, about a mile east of the Waynesville exit, for about half an hour, ending at 3:43 a.m.
Phelps County had a string of multivehicle crashes that closed all lanes of eastbound I-44 at mile marker 173, shortly before 9 a.m. on Christmas Day with snarled traffic not clearing for about an hour and a half, but those crashes didn’t involved Pulaski County residents.
According to Missouri State Highway Patrol reports, that pattern prevailed statewide, with only two fatal crashes during the official counting period from 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 23, to 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 26.
Missouri Department of Transportation personnel spent much of Christmas Eve clearing snow, with high-volume highways on the morning of Dec. 24 reported as being covered or mostly covered except in a triangle running from Kansas City to Joplin to Springfield and a second strip along the southern edge of the state.
However, that didn’t result in a large number of serious crashes. During the Thursday to Sunday counting period, troopers investigated 487 traffic crashes, which included one fatality and 122 injuries.
Troopers reported Monday that the number of fatalities during a comparable Christmas counting period has never before been so low since Missouri joined the Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) effort in 1978 and began keeping records. The only comparable years were 1996 with one fatality and 2002 with two fatalities, but both of those years had only 30-hour counting periods due to the date on which Christmas fell, rather than the 78-hour counting period this Christmas season.
Both of this year’s fatalities happened on Sunday, Dec. 26.
Troopers reported that Catherine A. Binger, 49, of Wappapello, died when the vehicle she was driving ran off Missouri Route W in Butler County, 13 miles north of Poplar Bluff, and struck a tree. Binger was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, and was pronounced dead at the scene by the county coroner.
The second fatality occurred in Benton County on U.S. Highway 65 at Bullseye, but troopers had no further details as of Monday morning.
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