One Gerald man killed, two others injured in traffic crashes

By Linda Trest, Staff Writer
Posted 9/9/20

Dianna Leiweke, 32, was injured in a single-vehicle accident Wednesday, Sept. 2. John O. Vasquesdiego, 34, was a pedestrian who was struck by a vehicle on the South Service Road near St. Clair …

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One Gerald man killed, two others injured in traffic crashes

Posted

Dianna Leiweke, 32, was injured in a single-vehicle accident Wednesday, Sept. 2. John O. Vasquesdiego, 34, was a pedestrian who was struck by a vehicle on the South Service Road near St. Clair Thursday, Sept. 3. Kurtis J. Birke, 36, was killed in a crash following a high speed police chase on State Route YY Friday, Sept. 4. All three were from Gerald.

Leiweke was traveling westbound on Antioch Road, east of Grube Lane at 5:45 p.m. when she traveled off the right side of the roadway. The 2003 Misubishi Montero she was driving struck the embankment and overturned.

According to a report filed by Tpr. H. H. Hoemann, with Troop C of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Leiweke was “driving at a speed too fast for conditions and failed to maintain control of vehicle.” She was transported to Mercy Washington with moderate injuries by Gerald Area Ambulance District. She had not been wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.

The vehicle was totalled and towed from the scene.

The following day, a 2006 Ford E-450, driven by Gary M. Stephens, 65, of Columbia, Ill., was traveling eastbound on the South Service Road west of State Route AH. John O. Vasquesdiego, of Gerald was walking westbound on the same road.

Tpr. Hoemann also filed a report on this accident which occurred at 9:35 p.m. He noted that Vasquesdiego crossed the center line and walked into the path of the pickup and was struck.

Vasquesdiego was taken to Mercy Washington by St. Clair ambulance with moderate injuries.

The truck had minor damage and was driven from the scene.

Just after 11:18 p.m. Friday night, a Franklin County Sheriff’s deputy observed a gray Chevy Silverado traveling west on State Route YY from the area of State Route AJ. The deputy clocked the truck at a speed of 64 miles per hour in a 55-mile-per-hour zone. As the deputy gave chase, the truck’s speed increased to up to 81 miles per hour on the country highway. The truck also crossed the center line on several occasions.

A report from Sheriff Steve Pelton notes the truck blew through the intersection at Highway 185 without stopping at a speed of about 70 miles per hour.

Kurtis J. Birke, who was driving the truck, then traveled off the right side of the highway, came immediately back across the roadway and off the left side. The truck then struck a group of trees and came to a rest.

Beaufort-Leslie Fire Department and New Haven Ambulance were called to the scene.

The deputy approached the vehicle through thick brush and finally was able to observe Birke lying across the seat of the vehicle. The deputy broke out the passenger side window and reached in to try to rouse Birke, but could not.

Fire and ambulance personnel arrived and were able to get Birke out of the vehicle and into the ambulance for unsuccessful life-saving measures. He had not been wearing a seat belt.

According to a report by Tpr. N. A. Schuetz, with the MSHP, Birke was pronounced dead by ambulance personnel at 11:45 p.m. His body was transported by the ambulance to Russell-Colonial Funeral Home.

The truck was a total loss.

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