Friday, December 10, 2010
An accident at a U.S. 54 grade crossing with a history of serious injuries claimed the life of a Holts Summit girl Wednesday evening.
Sixteen-year-old Samantha L. Scott of Holts Summit was killed in a broadside collision of a car and a pickup truck on U.S. 54 about eight miles south of Jefferson City.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol reported the accident occurred at 5:20 p.m. Wednesday when Scott was attempting to cross U.S. 54 at the Heritage Highway and Buffalo Road grade crossing just south of the twin bridges.
The patrol said Scott’s 2005 Ford Taurus drove into the path of a U.S. 54 westbound 2008 Ford F150 pickup truck driven by Matthew R. Chick, 33, Eugene.
The patrol reported Scott’s vehicle, which was demolished, was hit broadside by the pickup. Chick’s pickup also was demolished.
Chick sustained moderate injuries and was taken to Capital Region Medical Center in Jefferson City.
The patrol reported Chick was not wearing a seat belt and it is unknown if Scott was wearing a seat belt.
The Heritage Highway grade crossing has been the scene of numerous serious accidents. So has the Buffalo Road entrance across the highway from Heritage Highway at the same grade crossing.
Research conducted Wednesday by Loretta Mitchell, a patrol traffic safety analyst, revealed that since 2007 there have been 19 accidents at the Heritage Highway intersection with 35 injuries and one death.
The Buffalo Road entrance at the same grade crossing during the same time period had eight accidents, three injuries and two deaths.
Patrol Sgt. Paul Reinsch said the grade crossing at U.S. 54 has been a persistent safety problem over the years.
“On Interstate highways there is limited access with entrance and exit ramps and these types of crossings are not allowed. But on U.S. 54 they are allowed,” Reinsch said.
The U.S. 54 speed limit through the area just south of Jefferson City has been lowered from 70 miles per hour to 65 miles per hour because of the numerous accidents at grade crossings in that area.
Reinsch said the Heritage Highway crossing has had several accidents. It is especially difficult to cross because the westbound highway is straight before it reaches the curve starting at Heritage Highway.
Reinsch said inexperienced young drivers often have difficulty judging the speed of a vehicle coming straight at them because of the lack of sideways movement.
“It’s an area where we are having a lot of problems. There is another situation there on Buffalo Road on the other side of Heritage Road at the same location,” Reinsch said.
When Buffalo Road drivers are eastbound there is a slight curve and one vehicle can block the view of a driver who does not notice another rapidly approaching eastbound vehicle behind the first vehicle, Reinsch said.