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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Fire-related fatal accident still under investigation

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A funeral service was held on Friday, July 13 for Shane Thornton, 17, of Salem, who died on July 8 as the result of injuries suffered in a two vehicle accident in Missouri.

Thornton and Albert Eakin, 20, of Salem were airlifted to Mercy Hospital in Springfield on June 28, with serious injuries after the crash. The driver of their vehicle, Evan Cochran, 20, of Glencoe was transported to the Ozarks Medical Center in West Plains with moderate injuries.

The accident occurred as firefighters from several departments worked to put out multiple fires along Route E in the Moody, Mo., area. A Missouri Highway Patrol report indicated that smoke from a grass fire covered the roadway when a truck driven by Tony Francis, 36, crossed the centerline and struck a vehicle driven by Cochran.

Blake Bowers, Chief of the Lanton Volunteer Fire Department, said a passing vehicle was believed to have caused the fires by dragging something on the road pavement, which set off sparks.

Bowers said some witnesses reported that a truck which was dragging a chain caused the fire, while others have mentioned seeing a livestock trailer setting off the sparks, because a trailer gate was open and scraping the pavement.

West Plains Attorney Roy Williams Jr. ran an advertisement in the July 12 edition of The News seeking witnesses to the accident or what led up to it.

"Wanted," the ad read, "Any witness to the vehicle unit causing sparks resulting in the fire near Moody and/or any witness to the automobile collision occurring on Highway E, one mile south of Moody on June, 28, 2012."

"I represent the families of the passengers who were injured in the accident," Williams said. "I am investigating what happened on that day."

Williams said he had gotten some response from the advertisement, but declined to comment further on information he had received.

"Most times a fatal accident can be avoided," Williams said. "There is no reason this accident had to happen."

"There were over 300 people at Shane's funeral," Cindy Thornton, Shane's mother, said. "Shane touched a lot of people in Salem, and I appreciate the kindness of everyone. People are grieving along with me."

Some jars were put in local stores after the accident to collect money to help the Eakin and Thornton families deal with hospital expenses.

The Bank of Salem has also been accepting donations on behalf of the families.

According to Thornton, Albert Eakin is out of the hospital and was able to attend the funeral, but is still dealing with severe injuries.

Tony Francis, 36, of Mountain View, Mo., the driver of the truck which crossed the center line and struck Cochran's car head on, received only minor injuries in the accident, while his two passengers, Melody Francis, 36, and Piper Francis, 10, both of Mountain View, Mo., received what were described as moderate injuries.

They were all taken to Baxter Regional Medical Center in Mountain Home, Ark. for treatment.

While no charges have been filed, Sgt. Marty Elmore of the Missouri Highway Patrol Troop G, in Willow Springs said the accident is still under investigation.

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