On July 11 at 2:06 p.m., a strange accident occurred in Audrain County, Missouri, involving three vehicles, all of which were driven by 50-year-old drivers.
According to Missouri State Highway Crash Reports, Charles D. Howdeshell, 50, of Vandalia, was driving a 1998 Pontiac eastbound on Highway 54 west of Route A when he struck the vehicle of Douglas R. Hill in his 2004 Mazda while attempting to pass him. Riding as occupants in the vehicle were Jay A Ballenger, 52, and Karen K Ballenger, 51, both from Tipton, Iowa, as well as Lynn S. Fraker, 54, from North Liberty, Iowa. Douglas Hill lost control of his Mazda and traveled into the opposite lane.
A 2008 Chevrolet, driven by a driver, Robert P. Becker of Laddonia, Missouri,, was headed westbound and struck the Mazda head-on as it entered the opposing lane. There were four passengers riding with Becker, including Mackenzie D. Becker, 21, Denise D. Becker, 51, Christopher R. Becker, 19, and Alexander J. Becker, 14, according to the Audrain County Sheriff’s Department.
Alexander, Denise, and Robert Becker were all seriously injured, despite wearing their safety belts. Robert was flown to University Hospital by EMS of Audrain Medical Center while the other passengers were taken by ambulance to Audrain Medical Center. Missouri State Crash Reports indicated that Douglas Hill was also flown to University Hospital in serious condition, while his three passengers were taken to Audrain Medical Center. Both were in serious condition. At 3:30, Lynn S Fraker, who was riding with Douglas Hill, was pronounced dead at the scene by Audrain County Coroner Pat Farnen. Her body was taken to Audrain Funeral Home.
Charles D. Howdeshell was the only individual who sustained absolutely no injuries, despite not wearing a safety belt. The Missouri State troopers indicated that he was taken straight to the Audrain County Jail by Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop F.
Charges have already been brought against Charles D. Howdeshell, including intoxication resulting in the death of two or more persons, with a Blood Alcohol Count of more than 18 percent, Multiple charges for “Second Degree Assault – operating a vehicle while intoxicated resulting in Injury,” possession of a loaded firearm, 35 grams of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, and operating a motor vehicle in a careless and imprudent manner involving an accident were also brought. A total of 13 charges were listed on Missouri Court Records for Charles Howdeshell, and a warrant was served on July 12, with a $250,000 bond that was posted. An arraignment is scheduled for July 21 at 10:00 a.m., according to the court dockets.
As of July 13 at 8:58 a.m., both Douglas Hill and Robert Becker were still reported by the University Hospital as being in serious condition. Alex, Chris, and Denise Becker, along with Jay and Karen Ballenger, were admitted to University Hospital, where Douglas Hill and Robert Becker were taken the day of the accident. Chris and Denise Becker were reported this morning as being in Fair Condition, while Alex Becker, who is only 14, was reported in critical condition. Jay Ballenger was reported in Good condition and Karen Ballenger was also reported as being in fair condition. There was no status report on Mackenzie Becker, who cannot be confirmed but is believed to have been released from the hospital after moderate injuries.
Missouri State Highway Crash Report, http://www.mshp.dps.mo.gov/HP68/AccidentDetailsAction?ACC_RPT_NUM=A098443F
Information provided by Community Services Representative of Audrain Medical Center, 1st source
Information provided by Community Services, University Hospital, 1st source
Missouri Docket for Case #10AU-CR00470 – State Versus Charles D. Howdeshell