Missouri State Highway Patrol
News Release
Date: December 26, 2002

Re: One Fatality During Christmas Holiday Counting Period

The Missouri State Highway Patrol reports one person died during the Christmas holiday counting period–from 6 p.m. on Tuesday, December 24, 2002, through 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, December 25, 2002. During this year’s 30-hour counting period, the Patrol investigated 105 crashes which included the one fatality and 39 injuries. Troopers also arrested 12 persons for driving while intoxicated. During last year’s 102-hour counting period, the Patrol investigated 311 crashes which included 165 injuries. Fifteen people died during the 2001 Christmas holiday. In 2001, during the longer counting period, troopers arrested 131 people for driving while intoxicated.

The fatality during this year’s counting period occurred in the Troop E, Poplar Bluff area, on December 24, 2002. Johnny D. Varner, 51, of Piggott, AR, died when the vehicle in which he was a passenger struck a trailer being pulled by a pickup truck. The trailer had no rear lighting. The driver of the vehicle in which Varner was a passenger sustained serious injuries in the crash. Neither of them were
wearing a seat belt. The driver of the pickup was not injured; he was wearing his seat belt. The crash occurred in Dunklin County on Highway 164, east of Arbyrd, MO. Varner was pronounced dead at the scene by Dunking County Coroner Jack Adkins.