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Two killed in wrong-way crash on US 54

Two killed in wrong-way crash on US 54

January 12th, 2017 by Jenny Gray in Local News

HOLTS SUMMIT, Mo. — A major crash team is investigating a fatal two-car wreck reported early Wednesday, trying to determine why one of the drivers was on the wrong side of U.S. 54.

Two Callaway County men were pronounced dead at the scene of a highway accident reported at 12:22 a.m. Wednesday.

"The crash team will work on the why," said Sgt. Scott White of the Missouri Highway Patrol. "Was it a medical issue or an impairment issue?"

The initial crash report said Christopher M. Edwards, 40, of Fulton, was driving 2009 Chevy Malibu west in the eastbound lane of U.S. 54, about 1.2 miles east of Route AA. His vehicle struck head-on a 2005 Toyota Scion SB driven east by Christopher B. Steelman, 32, of New Bloomfield.

After the impact, the Scion overturned, going into the median of the four-lane highway. The Malibu rotated and ended up partially in the median and caught fire.

White said police started getting multiple reports about midnight of a wrong-way driver. Scott said several Patrol units were dispatched, but they couldn't find the driver in time to stop a potential crash.

"Unfortunately, the driver crashed before they could get there," Scott said.

He noted the potential for a high-speed collision since the speed limit is 70 mph.

"We don't know if the speeds can be determined, but if so, they will be in the crash report," he said. "If they were both going 70, there would have been a closing speed of 140 miles per hour."

The debris field along the highway was extensive, and the highway was closed for several hours.

"Whenever we work (head-on) crashes, it almost looks like a bomb went off," Scott added.

Neither Edwards nor Steelman were wearing seat belts, the crash report said. Both men were pronounced dead at the scene by Dori Burke, chief forensics investigator for Boone and Callaway medical examiner.

Pedestrian hit

The Patrol also reported a pedestrian was struck by a car at 5:41 p.m. Tuesday on Route AA east of Outer Road 54 East.

David R. Padgett, 28, of Holts Summit, said he was struck by an unknown car that left the scene. He was transported by Callaway EMS to University Hospital.

Callaway County is in the MSP's Troop F region, which has had five fatal vehicle wrecks so far in 2017.