The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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December 14, 2013

Joplin man killed, seven others injured in chain-reaction crash on interstate

JOPLIN, Mo. — A Joplin man was killed and seven others were injured in a chain-reaction accident at 4:50 p.m. Friday on Interstate 44 in Lawrence County.

The accident, one mile west of Halltown, involved three tractor-trailers and four cars and backed up traffic for miles.

The accident closed the westbound lane of the interstate for nearly five hours.

The driver who was killed was identified as Matthew W. Cozad, 44, of Joplin, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

According to the patrol, a Freightliner driven by Julian Ragellie, 44, of Sherman Oaks, Calif., struck in the rear a car driven by Jeffrey C. Schmedeke, 48, of Silver Spring, Md. Both vehicles were in the westbound lane.

Schmedeke’s vehicle then struck a tractor-trailer driven by Brett Buell, 48, of Rio Rancho, N.M., in the side, while Ragellie’s truck struck a car driven by Cozad in the rear, propelling it into a westbound car driven by Phillip G. Freimuth, 28, of Green Bay, Wis. Freimuth’s vehicle then struck a westbound car driven by David S. McCorkle, 46, of Neosho.

Ragellie’s truck then struck another westbound Freightliner, driven by Rudolph V. Escareno, 37, of Montclair, Calif., in the rear before it finally came to a stop.

Julian Ragellie was taken to Cox Medical Center South in Springfield with serious injuries, and a passenger in his truck, also named Julian Ragellie, a minor from Sherman Oaks, Calif., whose age was unknown, was taken to Mercy Hospital Springfield with minor injuries.

Schmedeke was taken to Cox Medical Center South with minor injuries.

Cozad was pronounced dead at the scene by Lawrence County Coroner Scott Lakin, and his body was initially taken to Lakin Funeral Home in Pierce City.

A passenger in his car, 11-year-old Collin Cozad, of Joplin, was taken to Mercy Hospital Springfield with minor injuries.

Freimuth was taken to Cox Medical Center South with minor injuries, while McCorkle and a passenger in his car, 44-year-old Sherry Shychalski, also of Neosho, were taken to Mercy Hospital Springfield with minor injuries.

Escareno was not listed as injured.

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