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Three hurt in separate wrecks, including firefighter rushing to blaze
Three hurt in separate wrecks, including firefighter rushing to blaze

St. Robert firefighters clean up a wreck involving a Waynesville firefighter who crashed his personal pickup on his way to a fire call.
STOUTLAND/PLATO/WAYNESVILLE, Mo. (March 26, 2010) — Three separate crashes in and near Pulaski County sent three residents to area hospitals on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, including a Waynesville firefighter who totaled his personal vehicle on his way to an emergency call.

That firefighter was Capt. Mike Shempert, 35, who was driving a silver 2009 Dodge Ram 4x4 pickup southbound on Ichord Avenue about 12:15 p.m. Wednesday when he struck a 2004 Freightliner truck owned by Clean Uniform Company of Joplin and driven by Dustin Matthews, 25, also of Joplin, who had been exiting Interstate 44 from the eastbound lane.

According to Waynesville police officer Sharon Miller, Shempert had been approaching the traffic light with his lights and sirens activated when Matthews, who had a green light to exit the interstate off-ramp, failed to notice Shempert’s approaching vehicle and attempted to make a left-hand turn into Ichord Avenue in front of Shempert.

“He could not hear the siren,” Miller said, noting that Matthews received no citations in the incident.

Shempert’s pickup, which had major front-end damage, was totaled and removed by Jack’s Towing. The uniform truck sustained only minor damage on the rear of the driver’s side but was removed by Jack’s Towing as well.

Mitchell had no injuries. Shempert had minor injuries and was transported by Waynesville firefighters to St. John’s Hospital in Lebanon for treatment.

Waynesville Rural Fire Chief Doug Yurecko said Shempert had been on his way to a fire call that turned out to be unfounded. Pulaski County 911 dispatchers had said several people reported seeing smoke on Interstate 44 east of Exit 163.

“We never found the reported smoke,” Yurecko said. “Some said it was on the north side and some said it was on the south side; we had multiple calls on it but couldn’t find it.”

Firefighters from a different department also had trouble finding their destination while trying to locate a Monday night crash.

Conflicting reports on the location of a wreck about 8:45 p.m. sent Tri-County firefighters from Richland to multiple locations after an initial report that a car had crashed on a dirt road just outside the Richland city limits. Firefighters eventually located a 1998 Pontiac driven by Cassandra D. Tull, 21, of Stoutland, who, according to Missouri State Highway Patrol reports, had been southbound on Highway 7 in Camden County near Garman Hollow Road when she fell asleep, ran off the right side of the road, and struck a guardrail. She then returned to the road, ran off the left side and struck another guardrail before coming to rest in the roadway with extensive damage to her vehicle.

Tull, who had not been wearing her seat belt, suffered moderate injuries and was transported to St. John’s Hospital in Lebanon. Her vehicle was removed by Larry’s Towing of Richland.

Another crash southwest of Fort Leonard Wood on Highway U in Laclede County between Highway 17 and Highway 32 moderately injured a Plato motorcyclist Tuesday night.

State troopers reported that Wayne E. Conley, 53, had been southbound on Highway U about three miles north of Highway 32 when he ran his 2009 Yamaha 1300 motorcycle off the road edge about 8:30 p.m., overturned, and struck a tree stump.

Conley, who had been wearing his helmet, was transported to General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital. His motorcycle sustained only minor damage and was able to be driven from the scene.

In two unrelated incidents, state troopers reported two arrests in Pulaski County:

• Nicholas A. Rogers, 23, of Dixon, was arrested at 1:55 p.m. Wednesday on a felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident. Rogers was transported to the Pulaski County Jail where he was eligible for bond.

• Spec. Jacquen L. Bratcher, 24, assigned to the 3rd Chemical Brigade at Fort Leonard Wood, was arrested at 1:51 a.m. Friday on charges of driving while intoxicated, driving while his license was suspended, and speeding. Bratcher was transported to the Pulaski County Jail and subsequently released.

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