A Carthage High School student was in intensive care at St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Joplin after he was involved in a crash Monday morning at Fir Road and River Street.


A Carthage High School student was in intensive care at St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Joplin after he was involved in a crash Monday morning at Fir Road and River Street.

Carthage police say the crash illustrates the importance of wearing seatbelts and of getting the message to young drivers about how sealbelts can prevent injuries.

Carthage Police Sgt. Doug Dickey said Micah Whited, 18, Carthage, was taken to St. John’s in Joplin by medical helicopter after Whited was thrown from his vehicle in a three-vehicle crash shortly before 8 a.m. Monday.

“Probably the biggest factor in this accident was the wearing of restraints,” Dickey said. “There is every indication that Whited’s head hit the windshield, then he was thrown from the vehicle and landed head first on the ground. The passenger compartment of his Jeep was not at all deformed so it’s likely if he had been restrained, he might have been injured but not to the extent that he was.

“The people in the other vehicles were restrained at impact and they didn’t have nearly as severe injuries.”

Dickey said two other people, Maddox Crowe, 2, and Jackson Crowe, 5, suffered cuts and bruises and were taken to Freeman West Hospital in Joplin to be checked out.

Matthew Crowe, 28, the father of the two children and driver of the vehicle they were riding in, was not hurt. He accompanied the two children to the hospital.

Also uninjured was the driver of the third vehicle in the crash, Kayla Meister, 18, Carthage.

Dickey said the accident happened when Whited, driving a Jeep, apparently tried to turn north on River from eastbound Fir Road and pulled into the path of a westbound Honda Element, driven by Matthew Crowe.

The impact of the crash sent the Jeep spinning into Meister’s Mitsubishi Eclipse which was traveling east behind the Jeep and threw Whited out of the Jeep.

Dickey said investigators believe Whited was not wearing his seatbelt while all the others in the accident were restrained.

Dickey said investigators are looking into a variety of factors that may have caused Whited to pull into the path of Crowe’s vehicle, including witness reports that the sun was low on the eastern horizon and may have obstructed Whited’s view of the road to the east.

Dickey said the police department is currently working a special enforcement detail to watch for teenage drivers who are driving without using seatbelts. He said while driving without a seatbelt is not a primary violation for adult drivers, it carries a much more severe penalty for drivers around the age of 16 who are still driving on an intermediate license.

“If a driver with an intermediate license is driving unrestrained, it’s a violation of that license,” Dickey said. “It’s the same as driving with no license at all and it’s not a $10 ticket for no seatbelt, it carries a much more substantial fine and points on the license.”