A West Plains High School student and a student enrolled last spring at Missouri State University-West Plains (MSU-WP) were killed in a head-on collision early Sunday morning on north U.S. 63, according to officials.
A Willow Springs teen was also seriously injured in the crash, which occurred about a mile north of Highway 14 junction, reported the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Troop G.
Trooper J.C. Howell reported Cailey E. Stowers, 17, of West Plains, was the driver of a southbound 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix that was traveling in the northbound lanes when it struck an oncoming Kia Optima driven by Vladik Nadtochayev, 21.
Stowers was pronounced dead at 12:16 a.m. at the scene by Howell County Coroner Tim Cherry and Nadtochayev was pronounced dead at Ozarks Medical Center at about 3 a.m., according to Troop G.
Nadtochayev’s passenger, Viktor V. Vyrovchtchikov, 19, was taken by air ambulance to Cox South Hospital in Springfield, Howell reported. It was unknown if either of the drivers or Vyrovchtchikov wore seat belts, according to reports.
Howell was assisted in the investigation of the crash by Sgt. B.C. Gruben and troopers T.D. Pond and M. Barron. Members of the West Plains Police Department, Howell Rural Fire District No. 1 and the West Plains Fire Department also responded to the scene, Howell added in his report.
The deaths were the 23rd and 24th traffic fatalities so far this year in the nine-county Troop G area, compared to 26 this time in 2018.
Nadtochayev was last enrolled at MSU-WP in spring 2019; according to a spokeswoman for the university, he was not enrolled for the fall semester. Stowers was a student at West Plains High School.
“We are saddened to learn of the death of one of our former students, Vladik Nadtochayev,” said Chancellor Dr. Shirley Lawler. “Our thoughts are with his family and friends as we join with them in mourning this loss. We offer our deepest sympathies to both families impacted by this tragic accident.”
“The West Plains School District is deeply saddened to learn of the death of one of our students, Cailey Stowers. We extend our sympathy to the family and friends as we continue to keep them in our thoughts and prayers,” said West Plains R-7 Superintendent Dr. Lori Wilson in a statement regarding Stowers’ death.
“We have asked counselors, teachers and district administrators to help our school community cope with this loss,” she added. “We are doing everything we can to help our students and our staff through this tragic experience.”
Wilson said students will be encouraged to express their feelings and thoughts and reminded the grieving process has many steps, including denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
In such situations children sometimes exhibit behaviors including restlessness, trouble concentrating, difficulty sleeping and nightmares, “clingy” behavior and fear of being alone, asking the same question over and over again and remembering previous losses and events, Wilson said.
“Is is our goal to provide this information to our students and parents so that together we can support our children in their grief. Our deepest condolences go out to Cailey’s family and friends.”