MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

December 5, 2013

Area boy dies in crash

Fort Gibson 5-year-old ejected from van

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— A 5-year-old Fort Gibson boy died after being ejected from a van Thursday morning.

Charles Spence was ejected from the passenger seat of a 2004 Chevrolet van driven by his mother, Dehlila Spence, 27.

The crash was one of at least a dozen attributed to icy roads in the area.

Muskogee Police Cpl. Michael Mahan said Thursday afternoon that police had responded to 10 weather-related vehicle crashes. Most were minor, he said.

In a media release, Mahan said the fatality happened about 9:49 a.m. near the west end of the East Shawnee Bypass bridge between Main and York streets.

The media release said Spence’s van was going west over the bridge and lost control “believed due to icy road conditions.”

The van then went off the road and rolled over several times down a grass embankment. Charles was ejected.

“Initial investigation shows that the child was not seat-belted,” the media release said.

The boy was taken by Muskogee County Emergency Medical Service to EASTAR Health System and later died from his injuries.

The four other people in the van received minor injuries, the release said. Others in the van were Alydia Shepherd, 35; Sean Barnaby, 7, and Russell Spence, 2, all of Fort Gibson. Everyone except Charles Spence were wearing seat belts.

Muskogee County 911 Center Director Darryl Maggard reported eight accidents, including three with injuries, by 3:45 p.m.

Wagoner Police Chief Bob Haley said a FedEx tractor-trailer rig went off the road at an icy overpass about three miles north of Wagoner on U.S. 69. The driver was taken by City of Wagoner Emergency Medical Service to St. John Medical Center, Broken Arrow, and was later released, said Janna Metzger of the Wagoner EMS.

Haley said another vehicle slid off an overpass about two miles north of Wagoner.

“But we just had to get a wrecker on that,” he said.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol Public Affairs Troop Commander Capt. George Brown reported no area accidents resulting in serious injuries.

A tractor-trailer rig that went into Lake Eufaula around 6 a.m. was not weather related, Brown said. He said there were no injuries.

Motorists must continue take precautions when driving — if they must drive at all, law enforcement officers say.

“Leave plenty of room between you and the person in front of you,” Mahan said, adding that there are slick conditions throughout Muskogee.

The National Weather Service said a Winter Storm Warning was in effect for Muskogee, Wagoner, McIntosh and Cherokee Counties. Lows tonight could dip to 2 degrees. A 40 percent chance of a wintry mix is expected Saturday night.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.