One hospitalized after fiery crash in Jackson

Tuesday, August 7, 2012
A pick-up truck struck multiple vehicles, causing at least one of them to catch fire, before colliding with the Jackson Courthouse Monday afternoon in uptown Jackson. (Neil Randol)

Robert Blackwell Jr. was recovering from cancer surgery, sitting in a recliner in his Jackson home Monday afternoon, when he heard a crash in the street outside.

Two vehicles had crashed into his retaining wall and burst into flames about 12:45 p.m., he said. Blackwell ran out to help and saw a man kicking at a window from inside a burning pickup.

"He kicked a window out and escaped, then screamed that somebody was still in the burning vehicle," Blackwell said. Other good Samaritans pulled the second victim from the pickup, but his clothes were on fire, Blackwell said. They got him on the ground and rolled him until the fire was out, Blackwell said.

The unidentified victim was hospitalized with burns after another pickup struck vehicles on a busy street, then careened into the Cape Girardeau County Courthouse in Jackson early Monday afternoon.

The unidentified driver of that truck was southbound on U.S. 61 when his red vehicle struck the back of a Hyundai sport utility vehicle, said Clark Parrott, a public information officer with the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

The red pickup continued into another pickup, which was shoved into a van in front of Blackwell's home at 208 N. High St., Parrott said. The second pickup and van caught fire, he said. The red pickup continued moving and struck the courthouse, Parrott said.

The driver of the second pickup was taken to Saint Francis Medical Center for treatment for burns. His condition was not known Monday afternoon, Parrott said. The driver of the red pickup was taken to the hospital to be evaluated. It was believed a medical condition led to the chain-reaction accident, Parrott said.

Investigators from the Jackson Police Department, highway patrol and Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Department were working at the scene.

District 1 Commissioner Paul Koeper said he was called to the scene minutes after the incident to inspect damage to the 104-year-old courthouse. Koeper said the driver apparently drove up a wide sidewalk that ends at a ground-level entrance on the north side of the structure. The entrance is framed by two large columns. The pickup had struck one of the columns, Koeper said.

"What I've looked at, I don't see any damage at all," Koeper said. "I don't see any cracks in the column."

Cape Girardeau County Public Works director Don McQuay and his staff were in Cape Girardeau trying to get ballot boxes set up for today's election when the vehicle struck the courthouse, Koeper said.

Blackwell said the burning vehicles melted headlights and plastic parts on his pickup parked in front of his house.

"It was a big hot fire. It melted the siding on my house," Blackwell said.

With the damage to his pickup, Blackwell said he's not sure how he's going to get to St. Louis on Monday for a follow-up examination after his surgery. He said his father-in-law offered to let him take his vehicle.

Jackson Police Department Lt. David James said the incident remained under investigation Monday evening.

jgamm@semissourian.com

388-3635

Pertinent address:

100 Court St., Jackson, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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