Men released in I-55 traffic death as police finish work

Saturday, June 15, 2002

The three men who had been with James H. Webb when he was killed Thursday afternoon by an oncoming truck on Interstate 55 were released Friday. Prosecutors see no reason to believe criminal charges are forthcoming.

Mark Morris and Charles Neal, neither of whom had a known address, and David Walden, whose last known address was Dixon, Tenn., were released Friday, said Cape Girardeau Police Department spokesman Jason Selzer.

"We're basically finished with our investigation," Selzer said. "Prosecutors said there was no reason to hold them, so we let them go."

Assistant prosecuting attorney Scott Lipke said the men can only be kept 12 hours unless they believe there is a reason to charge them.

"There's nothing right now to indicate that criminal charges need to be filed," Lipke said. "We'll continue our investigation and then look at the matter again next week."

Webb had been drinking Thursday afternoon with three friends, going back and forth on both sides under the Route K overpass on Interstate 55 when Webb was hit and killed by a northbound Federal Express truck, police reported.

"They basically had been drinking on both sides of the overpass," Selzer said.

When one of Webb's friends ran back across the interstate, Webb continued to run. Webb thought he could beat the truck, Selzer said. The driver, who wasn't charged, unsuccessfully attempted to swerve away from Webb.

Selzer said he didn't know why the men had been drinking and crossing the highway.

"Why do drunk people do what they do?" he said. "We'll probably never know exactly what happened."

Webb, 39, was from Anniston, Mo., located between Charleston and East Prairie. He was pronounced dead at St. Francis Medical Center. Webb was a self-employed carpenter. His funeral is Monday in Sikeston, Mo.

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