Nine people died in traffic crashes during the 2018 Christmas holiday weekend. Last year, there were seven fatalities.

The 2018 Christmas counting period ran from 6 p.m., Friday, December 21, 2018, through 11:59 p.m., Tuesday, December 25, 2018. The Missouri State Highway Patrol investigated the following:

2018 Christmas Holiday Traffic Statistics

Crashes ― 294
Injuries ― 80
Fatalities ― 6
DWI ― 106

The remaining three fatalities are the result of a two-vehicle traffic crash in Blue Springs, MO. The Blue Springs Police Department is investigating.

[Note: During the 2017 Christmas counting period, the Patrol investigated 491 traffic crashes, which included 125 injuries and five of the seven fatalities. Troopers also arrested 92 people for driving while impaired over last year’s Christmas holiday. There were no boating crashes. No one drowned over the 2017 Christmas counting period.]

Three fatalities occurred in the Troop A, Lee's Summit, area; two of the fatalities occurred in each of the Troop C, Weldon Spring, and Troop H, St. Joseph, areas; and one fatality occurred in each of the Troop D, Springfield, and Troop I, Rolla, areas.

One traffic crash fatality occurred on Friday, December 21, 2018. Brett L. Bruenn, 17, of La Russell, MO, died when the driver of the vehicle in which he was a passenger went off the left side of the roadway and overturned. Bruenn was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected in the crash. The crash occurred in Jasper County on Missouri Route U north of Sarcoxie, MO. The driver of the vehicle was wearing a seat belt and was not injured. A second passenger was wearing a seat belt and sustained minor injuries in the crash. Jasper County Deputy Coroner Mike Woodward pronounced Bruenn dead at the scene.

Five people died in traffic crashes on Saturday, December 22, 2018. Correna S. Masters, 57, of Kearney, MO, died when the vehicle in which she was a passenger traveled off the east side of the roadway, drove down an embankment, and crashed into the north bank of Shoal Creek. The vehicle came to rest on its wheels in the creek. Masters was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. The driver was not wearing a seat belt and sustained serious injuries. The crash occurred in Clinton County on Interstate 35 northbound at the 48.8-mile marker south of Cameron, MO. Clinton County Coroner Lee Hanks pronounced Masters dead at the scene of the crash. Clinton County Sheriff’s Office and Cameron Fire and Rescue personnel also responded to the scene.

Preston T. Strittmatter, 44, of Villa Ridge, MO, died when the vehicle he was driving failed to negotiate an approaching curve and crossed the center of the roadway. The right side of Strittmatter’s vehicle struck the front of a second vehicle. Strittmatter was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. The driver of the second vehicle and two passengers were all wearing their seat belts; all sustained minor injuries. The crash occurred in Franklin County on St. Louis Rock Road east of Lakeshore Drive. Dr. Scarato pronounced Strittmatter deceased at Mercy Hospital in Washington, MO.

The remaining three fatalities occurred as the result of a two-vehicle crash in the Blue Springs, MO, area. The crash is being investigated by the Blue Springs Police Department. The Patrol’s Major Crash Investigation Team 1 is assisting.

One person died in a traffic crash on Sunday, December 23, 2018. Thomas L. San Roman, 70, of Lenox, MO, died when the vehicle he was driving traveled off the right side of the roadway and struck a tree. Roman was not wearing a seat belt. The crash occurred in Dent County on Missouri Highway H west of Salem, MO. Dent County Coroner Gina White pronounced Roman dead at the scene.

Two people died in traffic crashes on Monday, December 24, 2018. Edward R. Gault, 80, of Kansas City, KS, died when the vehicle he was driving crested a hill at a high rate of speed, became airborne, then traveled off the north side of the roadway. The vehicle continued down a ditch, struck and embankment, became airborne a second time, then overturned onto its top off the north side of Missouri Highway 190. Gault was wearing his seat belt at the time of the crash. A passenger in Gault’s vehicle was wearing a seat belt; he sustained serious injuries. The crash occurred in Livingston County on Missouri Highway 190 west of Chillicothe, MO. Livingston Coroner Scott Lindley pronounced Gault dead at the scene. Livingston County Sheriff’s Department personnel also responded to the scene.

Lee E. Schickendanz, 44, of Colorado Springs, CO, died when the vehicle he was driving traveled off the left side of the roadway, traveled down an embankment, overturned, and caught fire. It is unknown whether Schickendanz was wearing a seat belt. The crash occurred in Franklin County on Missouri Route VV near Missouri Highway 100. Dr. Falch pronounced Schickendanz deceased at Mercy Hospital in St. Louis, MO.

There were no fatality crashes on Christmas Day, December 25, 2018.

The only 100 percent survivable traffic crash is the one that never happens. Make sure everyone in the vehicle is properly restrained in a seat belt or child restraint. Every day as we travel on Missouri's roadways, we trust that every driver on the road is going to obey the speed limit, pay attention, and drive sober. "Don't Violate The Trust."

Follow the Missouri State Highway Patrol on Twitter @MSHPTrooperGHQ

Randy Kirby