Multi-vehicle pileup on Interstate 44 snarls traffic for hours in Saint Robert
By: Darrell Todd Maurina
SAINT ROBERT, Mo. (Sept. 5, 2009) — Several different multi-vehicle crashes snarled traffic for hours on Interstate 44 on Saturday, blocking westbound traffic for miles from Exit 159 in St. Robert almost to Exit 163 and causing major damage to four different vehicles.
According to Missouri State Highway Patrol reports, Timothy I. Orr, 34, of Highlandville, was westbound on Interstate 44 at 2:38 p.m. in a Honda car when he lost control on wet pavement, struck a concrete median barrier, and came to rest in the roadway. Orr, who had been wearing his seat belt, suffered only minor injuries and sought his own treatment; his vehicle was extensively damaged and was towed by Jack’s Garage.
That wreck led to a much more serious crash 12 minutes later when a westbound 2008 Mercury Mariner driven by Janet M. Salzman, 71, of Queen Creek, Ariz., struck Orr’s car at 2:50 p.m. which had been disabled due to the previous crash. Monika Q. Mallory, 27, of Waynesville, attempted to take evasive action but her 2007 Buick Rendezvous was struck by a 2007 Peterbuilt semi tractor and trailer driven by James C. Scott, 70, of Lebanon; Scott’s semi truck then struck Salzman’s Mercury and Orr’s car from the previous crash. Mallory’s Buick was then struck by another semi truck which continued westbound on Interstate 44; that truck driver did not stop to provide identification and could not be located later.
Missouri Department of Transportation personnel reported at 2:50 p.m. that the semi truck had jackknifed at mile marker 159 and had forced the closure of both westbound lanes. By 3:17 p.m., MoDOT personnel, working together with Mark Twain REACT and police and firefighters from both Waynesville and St. Robert, had set up a detour sending traffic onto Old Route 66 through the two cities and back onto Interstate 44 at Exit 156 via Ichord Avenue—a move which snarled traffic within the two cities not only on Old Route 66 but also on St. Robert Boulevard. MoDOT reported that all lanes of interstate traffic were reopened by 5:07 p.m., and traffic within the city limits cleared shortly thereafter.
While the westbound lanes were completely closed for more than two hours, eastbound traffic was briefly hindered as well when a minor crash involving a travel trailer towing a passenger car happened on eastbound Interstate 44 in the Waynesville city limits. Waynesville police and Jack’s Towing personnel assisted with that crash, which caused no injuries.
Janet Salzman and James Scott were not hurt; Scott’s semi truck had only minor damage and was later driven from the scene. However, Janet Salzman’s passenger, James C. Salzman, 67, also of Queen Creek, Ariz., suffered minor injuries. Mallory suffered moderate injuries and her passenger, Claudell Q. Haggard, 9, of Waynesville, suffered minor injuries; all three were transported by Pulaski County Ambulance District paramedics to St. John’s Hospital in Lebanon.
Salzman’s Mercury and Mallory’s Buick were both extensively damaged and were removed by Jack’s Towing. All people in the vehicles had been wearing seat belts or child restraints.