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Department of Public Safety
Public Information and Education Division - PO Box 568 - Jefferson City, MO 65102

For further information please contact: Capt. John J. Hotz
Q12272022 (573) 526-6115
December 26, 2023
EMPHASIS: MSHP Reports Two Traffic Fatalities Over Christmas Holiday Weekend; No Drownings Or Boating Fatalities

Colonel Eric T. Olson, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, provides the following preliminary statistics related to the Christmas holiday weekend:

Two people died in traffic crashes during the 78-hour counting period, which began at 6 p.m. Friday, December 22, 2023, and ended at 11:59 p.m. Monday, December 25, 2023.

2023 Christmas Holiday Traffic Statistics

Troopers investigated the following:

Traffic Crashes — 124
Traffic Crash Injuries — 71
Traffic Crash Fatalities 2
DWI 81

[Note: Last year during the 78-hour Christmas counting period, there were 1,017 traffic crashes statewide. In those crashes, four people were killed and another 318 were injured. During the 2022 Christmas holiday, troopers investigated 306 traffic crashes which included three fatalities and 84 injuries. Troopers arrested 52 people for driving while impaired in 2022.]

There were no boating crashes or drownings over the 2023 Christmas holiday counting period.

Of the two fatality traffic crashes investigated by troopers, one occurred in the Troop D, Springfield, MO, area, and one occurred in the Troop G, Willow Springs, MO, area.

There were no traffic fatalities on Friday, December 22, 2023, during the holiday counting period.

There was one traffic fatality on Saturday, December 23, 2023. Brian E. Powell, 28, of West Plains, MO, died when the vehicle he was an occupant of traveled off the road in a curve, struck three fences, and overturned. Powell was not wearing a seat belt. The driver of the vehicle was not wearing a seat belt and sustained moderate injuries. Two additional occupants in the vehicle sustained moderate injuries. One was wearing a seat belt, and one was not wearing a seat belt. The crash occurred on Route ZZ, eight miles east of West Plains. Powell was pronounced dead at the scene by Howell County Deputy Coroner Michael Pauly. The Patrol was assisted at the scene by the Howell County Rural Fire Department and South Howell Ambulance.

One fatality occurred on Sunday, December 24, 2023. Mary L. Smith, 70, of Dupo, IL, died when the vehicle she was traveling in failed to negotiate a curve, traveled off the roadway, and struck an abandoned house. Smith was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. The driver of the vehicle was wearing a seat belt and sustained moderate injuries in the crash. The crash occurred on Route H in Freistatt, at the south city limits. Smith was pronounced at the scene by Lawrence County Coroner Scott Lakin.

There were no traffic fatalities on Monday, December 25, 2023.

NOTE: The fatality statistics in this news release could change if late deaths occur, if other departments report fatalities after this news release was sent out, or if a fatality is determined to be caused by a medical condition rather than a traffic/boating/drowning incident.

Too many people die in traffic crashes each year in Missouri. The choices you make when you’re behind the wheel matter. Make good choices, so you’ll never have to say, “If I could just go back.”

Follow the Missouri State Highway Patrol on Twitter @MSHPTrooperGHQ