Newborn baby only survivor of Mo. car accident

BARNETT, Mo. (AP) — With one phone call, a Missouri woman went from the joy of preparing to meet her new grandson to the unimaginable pain of losing her daughter, son-in-law and 3-year-old grandson in a traffic accident.

The new grandson, who was 2 days old, was the only survivor of the crash that killed his parents and brother on Tuesday on Highway 52 near Tuscumbia in Miller County as they were making the rounds of relatives and friends before taking him home for the first time.

Marty Wilcox, 36, his wife Elisa, 27, and their 3-year-old son, Marty “Junior” Wilcox, all of Eldon, died when a car crossed the center line and hit their car nearly head-on. Gabriel James Wilcox was thrown from the car but survived.

“It’s just a nightmare,” a sobbing Angela Hartwig told The Springfield News-Leader (http://sgfnow.co/zeXfOX ) by phone from her home in Barnett. “She was my oldest daughter and she was so happy to be bringing her baby home.”

Gabriel was born shortly after 10 p.m. Sunday at Lake Regional Hospital in Osage Beach. He weighed a little under 7 pounds and was 19 inches long.

“They loved each other so much and were so happy,” Hartwig said of the couple, together for eight years. “They were so excited to have the baby.”

Before the accident, they visited Marty Wilcox’s family and then stopped at the Miller County Care and Rehabilitation Center in Tuscumbia, a nursing home where Elisa worked. Compounding the tragedy — the driver who hit the Wilcox car was a co-worker of Elisa’s and was on her way to work.

Emily Frakes, 19, also of Eldon, was in serious condition Friday at a hospital in Springfield.

“We are certainly thinking and praying for the families of the girls,” said Rhonda Kurzejeski, director of nursing at the center. “They worked together so everybody knows everybody. It’s difficult for everybody.”

The growing Wilcox family had recently moved to Eldon, about 100 miles north of Springfield. They spent the past two weeks unpacking, folding baby clothes and getting ready.

The trip to visit Elisa’s parents was to be the last stop before they went home.

After a couple of worrisome hours, Miller County Coroner Rick Callahan called Angela and her husband, Brad, with the horrible news. Marty and Elisa Wilcox died at the scene. Marty Junior was taken by ambulance to Lake Regional Hospital and died a short time later.

Gabriel was taken to the hospital but released to the Hartwigs hours later.

“He’s only had scratches,” she said. “He was fine.”

All the adults in the crash were wearing seat belts, the 3-year-old was in a booster seat and the baby was in an infant car seat.

Angela Hartwig, who has four biological children and raised three others, said the two families were rallying around the baby.

“He’s going to get so much love,” she said. “He’s so beautiful and he looks so much like his mother.”

Attorney Tim Cisar said Angela Hartwig was given emergency guardianship of Gabriel. He has also helped the family set up a memorial fund.

“I don’t know how she’d be doing without Gabe,” said family friend Lori Parks. “The fact that she has the baby she told me ‘That’s what makes me get up and do. I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed if it wasn’t for him.”’

Missouri Highway Patrol Sgt. Paul Reinsh said it is unclear why Frakes’ car crossed the center line. The patrol’s major crash team is investigating and plans to create a total reconstruction of the wreck, which could take four to six weeks.

Visitation for the three will be from 4-8 p.m. Sunday at Phillips Funeral Home in Eldon. The funeral will be 2 p.m. Monday at Sacred Heart Catholic Church of Eldon.

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