MSHP say weather was a contributing cause

Five people were injured after an SUV was sandwiched between two tractor trailers on I-44 Sunday.

The accident occurred at 11:35 a.m. Sunday, during the winter storm, when a 2008 GMC Yukon moved into the left lane in between a 2003 Freightliner Tractor Trailer and a 2003 International Tractor Trailer, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) report.

The Yukon was then struck in the rear by the Freightliner tractor trailer, and then struck the International tractor trailer, according to the report.

The accident occurred at mile marker 150 on I-44, near the Buckhorn exit.

The 51-year-old driver of the Yukon from Cuba, Mo. and four passengers were left with minor injuries. A 16-year-old, who was a passenger in the Yukon, sustained serious injuries. All five people who were injured were taken to Mercy Hospital in Lebanon to be treated.

Neither of the tractor-trailer drivers sustained injuries. All passengers and drivers involved were wearing seat belts.

The Pulaski County Sheriff's Department, MSHP, and Pulaski County Ambulance District responded to the incident.

This accident was one of two accidents recorded by the Missouri State Highway Patrol in Pulaski County since the snow storm hit on Saturday night.

MSHP Public Information Officer Sgt. Danny Crain said that weather conditions were one of the many factors contributing to this crash, including improper lane change, insufficient following distance and speed.

"The primary causes of most crashes on ice- and snow-covered roads are excessive speed and insufficient following distance," Crain said. "Slick road surfaces can increase a vehicle's stopping distance by tenfold over normal conditions."

Crain said that it is also important to be aware of changing road conditions while traveling during winter weather.

"Motorists should be aware that road conditions can change dramatically along the same highway," Crain said. "Pulaski County is a prime example of an area where road conditions change quick due to the bluffs. I-44 in Pulaski County has many hills around it, and sometimes those hills cast large shadows over the highway, causing ice."

As of Monday afternoon, the recent snowstorm and sub-zero temperatures have resulted in Troop I officers responding to 78 vehicle crashes and assisting 100 motorists who have either been stranded or slid off the highway.

MSHP is still advising drivers to stay off the roads if possible.

"The perils of severe winter weather can be life-threatening if we do not plan ahead and make prudent decisions," Captain Lee Ann H. Kenley, MSHP commanding officer of Troop I, said. "This is especially true when traveling. For that reason, I would like to take this opportunity to encourage all Missourians to stay home and off the highways until the roads are cleared adequately for safe travel."