Three children were among the five killed when the driver lost control on a rural road in Cass County.
On Friday, the Missouri Highway Patrol identified those killed as Jason A. Rittermeyer, 32; Noah Rittermeyer, 10; Sage Rittermeyer, 9; Anna Rittermeyer, 8; and Aleah M. Lucas, 22.
Jason Rittermeyer, his girlfriend and three children had left their home to go pick up fireworks for their Fourth of July celebration. A fourth child stayed at home.
The driver of a second vehicle, Jimmy W. Crust, 52, of Archie, was taken to Cass Regional Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries.
The crash happened about 5:30 p.m. on Route B at Cantrell Road near Archie.
Jason Rittermeyer was traveling west when his 2000 Hyundai Elantra traveled off the right edge of the road and the driver lost control. Jason Rittermeyer tried to regain control and his vehicle returned to the road and skidded sideways across the highway.
Crust's 2007 Dodge Ram T-boned the out-of-control Elantra in the passenger door. Both vehicles came to rest off the south side of the road, according to troopers.
Jason Rittermeyer and Noah Rittermeyer were wearing seat belts. Sage Rittermeyer, Lucas and Crust were not wearing seat belts. Troopers have been unable to determine if Anna Rittermeyer was wearing a seat belt.
Sage Rittermeyer and Lucas were ejected from the vehicle. All five were pronounced dead at the scene by a Jackson County medical examiner.
The family's dogs are keeping watch outside the family's home where Jason Rittermeyer raised cattle.
Next-door neighbor Logan Taylor is devastated by the deaths.
"Jason and I were very close. We put up hay together. He was always available, would do anything for you," Taylor said. "My thoughts and prayers go out to them."
He said he was willing to do whatever he could to support the family, including the surviving son, Jonas.
"I wish Jonas well. He is a good boy," he said.
The boys were involved in the Boy Scouts and were a close-knit family. Jason Rittermeyer and his girlfriend were also involved. The family had just returned from a 10-day camp.
Crust is devastated, friends say.
"It's too bad for the family," said Dwayne Hendrickson, Archie Barber Shop owner. "I know it has hit him hard."
Patrons at the barber shop spoke of the tragedy and their concerns about the narrowness of Route B in that section.
"It's not marked on the edges and it's barely marked in the middle," Hendrickson said.
At the scene Friday, two teachers from the kids' school showed up with one goal in mind.
"Seeing everybody out here, I just wanted to make sure that people know, you know, that they had faces, and names and they were sweet babies," Corrie Lopez said.
Lopez taught the children's older brother, who was at home at the time. She, like the rest of the town of Archie, is now leaning on her faith, but admits it only goes so far.
"We know where they are and that's wonderful, but it doesn't help us here. It doesn't make it any easier knowing that, come tomorrow, their families will still be without," she said.
"These kids were the best kids – well-mannered, sweet, kind, gentle-spirited. We're just at a loss for words, just at a loss. It's just a tragedy for our community," teacher Stephanie Wimsatt said.
Wimsatt not only taught Anna and Sage, but her daughters were very close to the young girls.
"That was one of the hardest things that I've ever had to do as a parent – explain that their classmates, their friends, are in Heaven with Jesus right now," she said.
The crash happened in a blind curve of the road. KCTV5 reporter Erika Tallan saw numerous cars speeding while driving this stretch of road Friday morning.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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