Eldon man killed in head-on collision on U.S. 54

An Eldon man died in a two-vehicle collision early Sunday on U.S. 54 near Brazito.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol reported Larry D. Huston, 56, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash at 4 a.m. by the Cole County coroner.

Huston was driving a van westbound in the westbound lanes of the four-lane divided highway about a half mile west of its junction with Route D at around 2:33 a.m. when his vehicle was hit head-on by a pickup truck being driven the wrong way -- eastbound in the westbound lanes.

The Jefferson City dispatch center had transmitted an alert to officers to investigate a report of a wrong-way driver on 54 just a few minutes before the crash occurred.

The patrol reported that the driver of the pickup -- Marta Vaca, 29, Kingdom City -- received serious injuries. She was transported to University Hospital, Columbia, by helicopter ambulance. An occupant in the pickup -- Jerry R. Friend, 29, Fulton -- also suffered serious injuries and was taken to Capital Region Medical Center in Jefferson City.

Emergency personnel closed both westbound lanes of the highway for almost two hours following the wreck. Then one lane was reopened but authorities continued their work at the scene for several more hours.

Earlier coverage:

Emergency personnel were called to an early Sunday morning collision between two vehicles on U.S. 54 at Pleasant Hill Road in Cole County.

Officers and rescue workers were called to the scene, which is near Brazito, at around 2:33 a.m. There were injuries involved, occupants were extricated from at least one of the vehicles, and a helicopter ambulance responded to the location.

The collision was reported as being head-on. One of the two vehicles involved reportedly was going the wrong direction in the westbound lanes.

Those westbound lanes of the four-lane divided highway were closed shortly after the crash so rescue and law enforcement personnel could work at the scene, but one of the two westbound lanes was reopened to traffic around 4:22 a.m. as the investigation and cleanup continued.

Initial report posted at 2:41 a.m. and updated thereafter.

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