Missouri State Highway Patrol Troopers were still working on Thursday to investigate a traffic crash that left two people killed, but left an infant in a car-seat miraculously unharmed.
The accident happened on Fir Road near the intersection of County Road 175, about a mile and a half west of the Carthage city limits.
The two drivers in the crash, Julie G. Cartwright, 48, Joplin, and Brandon S. Stuckey, 22, Belleville, Ill., were killed in the head-on crash, which happened at 5:32 p.m. Wednesday.
Cartwright's infant grandson, Hayven Cartwright, who was in the 2000 GMC Sierra pickup with her, was strapped in a baby's car seat and unharmed in the crash.
"The car seat did the job it was intended to do," said Missouri State Highway Patrol Spokesman Sgt. Mike Watson. "That's a pretty violent impact, two vehicles at highway speeds, hitting head on, and it's obvious the car seat did its job."
In its online report, the patrol said Stuckey's 2001 Chevrolet Cavalier was traveling east and Cartwright's truck was going west when Stuckey's car crossed the center line and hit Cartwright's pickup head on.
Jasper County Coroner Rob Chappel declared the two drivers dead at the scene.
Watson said troopers were still investigating the crash, hoping to determine why the Stuckey vehicle crossed the centerline.
Watson said two women stopped at the scene right after the accident and cared for the infant while waiting for emergency workers to arrive.
Carthage Fire Chief Chris Thompson said the two women were able to get the infant out of the truck and to a safe place, and calm him down.
Thompson said one woman was from Carthage and the other was from Joplin, but he didn't know if they wanted to be contacted by the media.
Thompson said he hopes to recognize these women in some way for their work to protect the baby.
"This day in age you just don't see that very often, people just don't want to get involved, but these ladies went out of their way to help," Thompson said. "Any time you stop in the middle of a two-lane road, you put yourself in a very precarious situation. The fact that they stopped and exited their vehicles, they very definitely put themselves in harm's way to help this baby."
Stuckey was a student at Ozark Christian College in Joplin and he attended the First Christian Church in Carthage.
OCC President Matt Proctor issued a statement on the college's Facebook page on Thursday morning.
"I had the privilege of having Brandon in my Life Group, and I can tell you that he was a young man with a passion for Christ and a heart for people," Proctor wrote. "He came to Ozark from Belleville, Ill, and as a student in my Homiletics class, Brandon's thoughtful and Biblical sermons confirmed his calling as a preaching major. He was a valued member of our drama department and an active volunteer at First Christian Church in Carthage, Mo. He was a true Christian gentleman.
Page 2 of 2 - "I spoke with Brandon's father on the phone this evening, and I assured him that hundreds of Christian brothers and sisters here at OCC would be lifting their family — dad Daniel, mom Raydean, sisters Kaylyn and Amie — up before the throne of grace. Of course, there are many others grieving: Brandon's church in Carthage, his home church in Belleville, his roommate and dorm brothers in Boatman, as well as the family of the other fatality in the accident."