Two Missouri Southern State University football players from Springfield were killed in an accident on Interstate 44 two miles east of Sarcoxie at approximately 2:30 the morning of December 2. Diondre (Dre) Johnson, 19 and Michael McCrimmons, 19 were passengers in a 2000 Nissan Pathfinder SUV traveling westbound on Interstate 44, when the vehicle veered off the left side of the road, went over the median cable barrier and flipped into the eastbound lanes.
Dre Johnson was ejected from the vehicle and killed. Michael McCrimmons was still in the overturned vehicle when it was struck by a 2003 Sterling Conventional Tractor Trailer heading eastbound on 44. Both were graduates of Parkview High in Springfield, Missouri. The driver of the Nissan, Jeremy Johnson, 19 of Harrison, Arkansas was hit by a 2002 Pontiac Grand Prix driven by Charles Lee, 62 of Wentworth, MO, as he moved away from the accident and walked into the driving lane of Eastbound I-44. Jeremy Johnson also played football for SMSU. He was airlifted to Freeman hospital in Joplin with serious injuries. It was noted in the Joplin Globe that Jeremy Johnson is now in a hospital in Tulsa in a coma, with some hope that he may survive his injuries.
Another passenger in the vehicle, Patrick Holt, 19 of Benton, Arkansas, and a member of the MSSU golf team, was airlifted to St. Johns Hospital in Springfield in serious condition.
The seriousness of the accident delayed traffic for five hours on Interstate 44. Tragically, the fatalities mark the 104th and 105th fatalities this year for Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop D, which covers the southwest corner of the state.