State trooper killed in traffic accident

Friday, May 23, 2003

ODESSA, Mo. -- A Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper making a traffic stop was killed early Thursday when his car was rear-ended by a truck and he became trapped inside the burning vehicle.

Patrol spokesman Lt. Tim Hull identified the trooper as Micheal Newton, 25, who was assigned to Troop A in the Kansas City suburb of Lee's Summit.

Hull said Newton's 2003 Crown Victoria burst into flames after it was hit about 7 a.m. by a truck towing a trailer on Interstate 70 near Odessa.

The truck traveled onto the shoulder where Newton's car was parked, Hull said.

The driver of the vehicle Newton had stopped was sitting in the patrol vehicle with him when it was struck. The passenger was pulled from the patrol car through the passenger window by witnesses at the scene, the patrol said.

The passenger was transported by air to University of Missouri Hospital and Clinics in Columbia with third-degree burns covering 40 percent of his body, authorities said.

The driver of the truck was transported to a hospital in Lexington, Mo., by ambulance for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

Newton was a native of Newburg and is survived by his wife and two sons.

Police departments have alleged the Crown Victoria is prone to catch fire when struck from the rear at high speed. At least a dozen other officers in the country have been killed in fiery crashes in Crown Victorias since 1983. But Missouri State Highway Patrol officials said Newton's car was a 2003 and had new gas tank modifications in place.

Ford has faced lawsuits in recent months by families of officers killed when their vehicles have caught fire after crashes. In February, the family of a New York state trooper sued the Ford Motor Co. for more than $250 million. The trooper was killed when his Crown Victoria cruiser was hit from behind and burst into flames.

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