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I-44 wreck snarls traffic by Big Piney Bridge
I-44 wreck snarls traffic by Big Piney Bridge

Cody Banks of Jack's Towing assists in removing a vehicle following a Wednesday crash on I-44.
DEVIL’S ELBOW, Mo. (UPDATED Dec. 5, 2008) — State troopers released details Friday on a 2:40 p.m. Wednesday crash on eastbound Interstate 44 just west of the Big Piney River Bridge that sent a semi truck into the median guard cables and a passenger car into a rock bluff. The wreck involved a 2004 Freightliner semi driven by Andrew C. Smith, 42, of Litchfield, Ill., and owned by NFI Interactive Logistics of Vineland, N.J., pulling a Staples trailer, and a white Ford Escort SE driven by Verne E. Massey, 73, of St. Robert.

Massey and her grandchild, Page Massey, 12, of Devil’s Elbow, were transported by Pulaski County Ambulance District personnel to Phelps County Regional Medical Center in Rolla for treatment. All three had been wearing their seat belts; Page Massey had minor injuries and Verne Massey had moderate injuries, but the truck driver was not hurt.

According to state patrol reports, Massey had moved her car to the shoulder of the roadway to avoid a previous accident. The semi driven by Smith slid on wet pavement causing the towed trailer to strike Massey’s car, knocking it off the right side of the roadway into a rock bluff. The semi then slid off the left side of the roadway and struck the median cable barrier.

The car sustained extensive driver’s-side damage and was totaled; the semi had minor damage and was driven from the scene. The truck was pulled out of the median guard cables and the car was towed away by Jack’s Towing personnel.

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A Wednesday afternoon crash on Interstate 44 just west of the Big Piney River Bridge sent a semi truck into the median guard cables and a passenger car into a rock bluff, according to Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers and Waynesville Rural Fire Department personnel.

About 2:45 p.m. on Dec. 3, Pulaski County 911 dispatchers began receiving multiple calls regarding a jackknifed semi truck near eastbound mile marker 166 on Interstate 44. When Waynesville firefighters arrived, they found a semi truck had blocked both eastbound lanes of I-44, which caused a second crash by vehicles trying to avoid the blockage.

That second crash involved a Freightliner semi owned by NFI Interactive Logistics of Vineland, N.J., pulling a Staples trailer, and a white Ford Escort SE passenger car. Two people in the car, an adult woman and a juvenile female, were transported by Pulaski County Ambulance District personnel to an area hospital with undetermined injuries believed to be minor, according to Waynesville Rural Fire Chief Doug Yurecko.

Firefighters called for help from St. Robert police, Pulaski County deputies, Mark Twain REACT personnel and state troopers who blocked off eastbound I-44 at the Highway 28 exit at mile marker 163 and redirected traffic to the Highway J exit at mile marker 169.

According to Cpl. Christine Bogart of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the second truck “tried to stop and hit the car, causing it to run into the rock bluff.”

The car sustained extensive drivers-side damage and was believed to be totaled. Both the truck and the car were removed by Jack’s Towing personnel.

Missouri Department of Transportation personnel initially estimated the wreck would take about two hours to remove but were able to clear both eastbound lanes for traffic by 3:41 p.m.

Names and hospital transport information weren’t immediately available from the state patrol.

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