Kansas City, MO Multi-Vehicle Crash And Fire, Jan 2000



Kansas City, Mo. - (AP) - At least seven of the 10 people killed in a chain collision and ferocious fire near Kansas City were traveling to their homes and schools in the Springfield area, friends and colleagues said Monday.
Four of the victims were members of a well-known Springfield family, believed to have been in two cars that got caught in Sunday afternoon's pileup on icy Interstate Highway 29. With the four was a friend, also from Springfield.
In another southbound car were two students from Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, north of Springfield, headed back to campus for Monday's start of the spring semester.
"We can't fathom how seven of the 10 can bee from the Springfield area. We're just stunned," said Paul Logsdon, spokesman for Springfield's Evangel University, where two of the victims earned degrees and a third had taught.
Victims identified so far by colleagues and relatives in the crash include:
DR. LARRY BASS, 55, Springfield; clinical psychologist, founder of Associates Psychological Services in Springfield; taught at Evangel University, 1975-84.
MEREDITH BASS, Springfield; community services coordinator for inpatient psychological services, Cox Medical Center; wife of LARRY BASS.
MARK BASS, 28, Springfield and Branson; vice president, The Sullivan Co., producers of BransonFest and other special events in Branson; son of LARRY and MEREDITH BASS.
CASEY SNAVELY BASS, 25, Springfield and Branson; first-grade teacher, Hollister Elementary School, Hollister; wife of MARK BASS.
LINDA HAEN, Springfield; wife of Dr. Charles Haen of Cox Family Physicians, Springfield; traveling with BASS family.
SARA NICOLE McGAHA, 18, Papillion, Neb.; sophomore psychology major, Southwest Baptist University, Bolivar; traveling with JAY WETZEL.
JAY C. WETZEL, 19, New Salem, N.D.; freshman sports management major, Southwest Baptist University; traveling with SARA McGAHA.
An eighth victim, whose name had not been released by late Monday, was a Florida man returning home after attending a grand-child's 16th birthday party in St. Joseph, patrol Sgt. Jack McMillan said.
Among the five tractor-trailers and 19 smaller vehicles involved in the crash, one car was so badly burned that investigators could not read a state name of the license plate, said Lt. Chris Ricks, spokesman for the Missouri Highway Patrol in Jefferson City.
That car carried two victims, Ricks said. Investigators hoped to find the vehicle identification number on the engine block and use it to trace the occupants.
Although no one at the Highway Patrol could remember a worse crash as measured by fatalities, the I-29 pileup was but one of hundreds that troopers handled Sunday as a band of icy snow swept from northwest to southeast across Missouri.
"I've handled many multiple-vehicle accidents in my 19 years in the patrol, but never have I been involved in an incident where so many people lost their lives in one crash," Sgt. Londell Jamerson, based in Lee's Summit, said Monday.
"Then on top of that we had other, multiple-injury crashes north and south of the main scene. It was total chaos. We had wreck after wreck after wreck.
It could be a month before investigators complete their report, Ricks said. But this much was known by Monday afternoon:
After a light snowfall in northwest Missouri around noon Sunday, a heavier band of snow swept down from Nebraska and entered Missouri about 10 miles north of St. Joseph.

Salina Journal Kansas 2000-01-25