A five-vehicle crash north of Houston on U.S. 63 killed two persons and injured five persons early Thursday afternoon, authorities said.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol said a Dent County couple, Janet L. Hoffman and Ralph F. Hoffman, both 78, were killed.
Mrs. Hoffman, of Salem, was pronounced dead at the scene by acting coroner Lt. Melissa Dunn of the sheriff’s department. They were in a 2011 Buick, the patrol said in its report. Mr. Huffman died at Texas County Memorial Hospital. A third person in the vehicle, Ralph A. Hoffman, 49, also of Salem, sustained serious injuries and was airlifted to a Springfield hospital, the patrol said. They were northbound, the last of three stopped vehicles struck by a trailer-truck. It was driven by a 2001 Volvo tractor-trailer driven by James A. McCune, 48, of Hartville. He was not injured.
One person in the first stopped vehicle sustained serious injuries, Parish L. Gale, 21, of Houston. He was a passenger in 1996 Dodge driven by Melissa J. Hall, 45, of Raymondville, and was airlifted to a Springfield hospital. Another passenger in the first stopped vehicle, Clarence L. Hall, 20, of Houston, was transported to Texas County Memorial Hospital with moderate injuries.
Two other persons had minor injuries: Jason D. Clinton, 22, of Bucyrus, a driver of a 2000 Ford, the second stopped vehicle; and Erica S. Wybe, 19, of Roby, who was traveling southbound in a 2000 Nissan.
Officers on the scene said the first northbound vehicle was preparing to turn left onto Northview Lane and two others were halted behind it when the trailer truck failed to stop, creating a chain reaction.
The accident left vehicles and parts scattered across the highway and adjoining ditches for about 50 yards. Two cars came to rest in ditches on opposite sides of U.S. 63 – one in front of the Church of Christ Temple Lot next to Northview Lane and the other next to Keenview Road. The tractor trailer continued off the highway and stopped in a field just off the left side of the highway. A truck was flipped on its side in the middle of the highway.
In the middle of the scene was the car containing the fatality. It received massive damage from the impact of the accident.
Multiple ambulances and two choppers were called to the scene, which also included several law enforcement agencies, the Missouri Department of Transportation and local firemen. One chopper landed north of the scene on U.S. 63 and transported a victim with a leg injury. Another was dispatched around 2:35 p.m. to Texas County Memorial Hospital and later moved to the airport due to congested traffic. It was sent there on standby.
The 1:20 p.m. accident completely blocked traffic flow in both directions, and authorities diverted traffic until about 5:30 p.m. Licking police sent southbound traffic to Highway 137. Additionally, Houston authorities took northbound traffic to Highway B and on to Highway 137 or Morton Road.
A special patrol team gathered Friday morning to map the accident scene.