A 75-year-old St. Louis County man who may have driven the wrong way on Interstate 44 for several miles early Wednesday died after he caused a five-vehicle pileup in the eastbound lanes east of Stanton.
The Missouri Highway Patrol stated in its online report that Roy T. Blair, of Richmond Heights, died from injuries suffered in the 4:35 a.m. crash at I-44 mile marker 233.2. He was pronounced dead at Missouri Baptist Hospital in Sullivan. He was not wearing a safety belt and was ejected from his vehicle.
One of the injured was 61-year-old Theresa R. King of Sullivan. She also was taken to Missouri Baptist Hospital. Her injuries were listed as serious.
According to the patrol, Blair was driving a 2001 BMW 325 westbound in the eastbound lanes of I-44. Highway Patrol Sgt. Al Nothum said Blair likely got on the highway at one of the two St. Clair exits and had been traveling the wrong way for several miles.
The other vehicles involved in the crash all were traveling eastbound. They were a 2006 Chevrolet Equinox driven by King, a 2001 Chevrolet Tahoe driven by Nicholas C. Moses, 47, of Spencer, Okla., a 2003 Ford Escort driven by Wade M. Hassler, 32, of Leasburg, and a 2014 Blue Freightliner semitrailer driven by Sarah A. McLellan, 34, of Belen, N.M.
The patrol stated the chain-reaction crash started when King swerved her car to avoid the oncoming Blair vehicle, but the front left of Blair’s BMW struck the front left of King’s Equinox. That caused the right rear of King’s car to strike the towed unit of the Freightliner, and both the Equinox and the semitrailer traveled off the left side of the highway and struck the cable barrier.
The BMW continued to travel westbound in the eastbound lanes and started to spin. Moses, driving the Tahoe, swerved to avoid Blair’s approaching vehicle, but the left front of the Tahoe struck the right side of the BMW. Blair was ejected as the BMW came to a stop.
The Tahoe started to spin, causing it to lose the load it was towing.
The Escort then swerved, and the front of that car struck the right side of the Tahoe. Both of those vehicles came to rest blocking the eastbound lanes of the interstate while the semitrailer stopped on the shoulder of the highway.
Blair was the only driver not wearing a safety belt. Injuries to Moses and Hassler, who also were transported to Missouri Baptist Hospital, were listed as minor.
The Equinox was totaled. Damage to the BMW was extensive. Damage to the Tahoe and Escort was moderate. The semi sustained minor damage.
The eastbound lanes of the interstate were closed around the accident site for several hours, witnesses said. Traffic was rerouted at the Stanton mile marker 230 exit until I-44 reopened.