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Mammoth Spring woman dies in crash on ice covered road

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

(Photo)
Savannah Harper
A 19-year-old Mammoth Spring woman, Savannah L. Harper, died in a two-vehicle crash early Tuesday morning, Feb. 9, 10 miles south of West Plains on U.S. Highway 63 near the West Plains Motor Speedway.

According to reports from Troop G of the Missouri State Highway Control accident occured around 7:55 a.m. when Harper lost control of her 1993 Ford Escort, crossing the center line into the path of a southbound 2009 Sterling UPS tractor-trailer truck driven by James E. Miller of Memphis, Tenn. He was not injured, according to reports.

The patrol said Harper, who was wearing a seatbelt, was driving too fast for road conditions. The highway was ice-covered at the time of the crash.

(Photo)
Emergency responders at the scene of a two-vehicle crash that killed a 19-year-old Mammoth Spring woman early Tuesday, Feb. 9. Road conditions at the time of the accident were ice covered. Photo by Woolman/ Courtesy of West Plains Daily Quill
Harper, who was a student at Missouri State University-West Plains, is thought to have been on her way to classes at the school.

The Highway Patrol reported that Harper died at the scene.

Rescue personnel from Brandsville and Howell Rural Fire District No. 1 assisted in extricating Harper.

Harper was a 2008 graduate of Mammoth Spring High School. Her former teacher, Angela Kinder, had this to say about her former student.

"Savannah was a 'light.' She was my student for four years and over those years I got to know her better and better. She worked at every task she was given. It didn't matter how trivial it might have been, if she was asked to complete it, it would be done to the absolute best of her ability. She was generous with her time and was a friend to many of the students at Mammoth Spring HS. She listened and was highly sensitive to others' feelings. By nature, if she felt that she had hurt someone's feelings it hurt her and she would make it right. Savannah always 'took the high road.' I've visited with her classmates and 'family,' they agree, Savannah was not only pretty, she was beautiful. Her heart truly was in the right place.

"After she graduated from Mammoth, she went to school at MSU - West Plains. She was so excited about becoming a teacher. School and learning, that was what she was about. She had her close friends and family, then it was teaching. We had discussed on several occasions her future as a teacher. She worked in the library at MSU-WP. She cared about books and what we could get out of them if we would just look. Savannah loved, so much, to see others succeed and feel good about themselves. Savannah wanted so much to teach. She stayed in contact with not only me, but Ms. Rose Estes and Mr. Adam Henslee, and she visited with us and wanted to continue learning even after she'd left this school. She worked closely with her classmates at MSU-WP. Always helping. There are not enough words to describe.

"Life had not always been fair to Savannah, but you'd never know it by speaking to her. She was, however, always fair to life. Making the most of the moments she had with those she cared most about. While it is a great loss that she never got to stand in front of her own class full of students and instruct as a teacher, Savannah was my teacher. And a teacher to many others, Ms. Estes, Mr. Henslee, all of us. We learned a different point of view, she taught us to always give, our time and energy. She put herself into everything she did. Whole heart.

" It isn't my place to understand this and Savannah would never want to see another person hurt on her account. Her light, her lessons, will be with me in each class I teach and I hope to be better for it. She was on her way to school, that's what she did, it was where she was happiest. She's our light and will continue to be everyday.

"I am reminded of something she and I had discussed in a book we'd shared by Dean Koontz. He quotes H.R.White's, "This Momentous Day" -- "Each smallest act of kindness reverberates across great distances and spans of time, affecting lives unknown to the one whose generous spirit was the source of this good echo, because kindness is passed on and grows each time it is passed, until a simple courtesy becomes as act of selfless courage years later and far away." -- H.R. White

"This was what I wrote to Savannah when she graduated and it is never more true," Kinder said.

Her obituary follows.

Savannah Lyn Harper was born the daughter of Joe Michael Harper and Sherrie Lyn Gaddis on July 18, 1990, at West Plains, Mo., and departed this life Feb. 9, 2010, near Brandsville, Mo., at the age of 19 years.

She is survived by her father, Joe Michael Harper and special friend, Tracy Howell of Jenks, Okla.; her mother, Sherrie Lyn Medford of Memphis, Tenn.; paternal grandmother, Linda Harper Dispenza and husband, Burno of Hebron, Ind.; maternal grandmother, Linda Lord of Winfield, Mo.; maternal grandfather, Lee Gaddis of Tyronza, Ark.; three brothers, Justin Michael Harper, Matthew Harper and Levi Medford; three aunts, Malinda Traw and husband, Bill, Angela Lee and husband, Rich and Tammy Nicholson and husband, John; two uncles, Trevor Harper and wife, Amber and Lee Roy Gaddis; her special friend, Andrew Swartz; several cousins; other relatives; and many friends.

She was preceded in death by: her paternal grandfather, Joe Harper; paternal great-grandparents, Posey and Ora Harper; and maternal great-grandparents, Vershel and Narene Parker.

Savannah was a graduate of Mammoth Spring High School, graduating with the Class of 2008. She presently was a student at Missouri State University-West Plains and worked at the College Library.

She enjoyed life with an outgoing personality and a warm smile. She shared many good times with family and friends and enjoyed listening to music. Savannah had a giving heart and was the happiest when she was able to help others.

Savannah was a Christian and of the Baptist faith. She will truly be missed by all who knew and loved her.

Funeral services were held Thursday, Feb. 11, at the Carter Funeral Home Chapel in Thayer, Mo., with Rev. David Lindgens officiating. Burial was in the Thayer Cemetery with arrangements under the direction of Carter Funeral Home, Inc. in Thayer.



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