State trooper hit and killed at accident scene by motorist

Saturday, January 19, 2002

HOUSTON, Mo. -- A state trooper working on a dark, foggy highway in Texas County was hit and killed Friday morning by a motorist who authorities believe was driving drunk.

The trooper, Kelly L. Poynter, 27, was directing traffic at the scene of a multi-car crash on U.S. 63 about two miles south of Houston around 1:05 a.m. when he was hit, according to the patrol. Poynter was pronounced dead at the scene.

The motorist, Julie A. Hartman, 39, of Houston, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter. Investigators believe she was going about 60 mph -- the speed limit -- but fog limited visibility to an eighth to a quarter of a mile, Texas County Prosecutor Doug Gaston said.

"Probably 25 would be plenty fast enough on a night like that," Gaston said.

He said Hartman's breath showed an alchol concentration of .07 percent, three hours after the crash. The legal limit is .08. Gaston said he believes Hartman was over the legal limit at the time of the crash, because alcohol dissipates from the bloodstream at about .015 percent per hour.

Hartman is being held in the Texas County jail.

One man injured

Poynter told two men from a tow-truck crew to run just before he was hit by the oncoming car, said Melinda Brewer, the wife of tow-truck driver Dean Brewer.

One of the two men, the son of the tow-truck's operator, was also hit, but not seriously injured, according to patrol Lt. Tim Hull. Hull said Poynter's emergency lights were activated.

Patrol Sgt. Marty Elmore said the road near the crash scene was straight, but hilly. He said Hartman would have been headed up a hill when she struck Poynter.

Poynter was a native of Lebanon and studied criminal justice at Drury College in Springfield. He had been a state trooper since 1996. He leaves behind his wife, Allison, and two small children, the patrol said.

Poynter's funeral will be 2 p.m. Monday at Kenneth Cowan Civic Center in Lebanon.

Gov. Bob Holden issued a statement Friday afternoon that said, "As a state, we will be forever grateful for the service, sacrifices and contributions made by Trooper Poynter."

Elmore has worked with Poynter in Troop G for the past five years.

"He was just a real friendly, easy-going kind of guy," Elmore said. "Easy to talk to. Just a gentleman to be around. He loved to fish, talked about that a lot. Kind of like a lot of troopers in that part of the state."

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