It appears that the first traffic fatality of the new year in Missouri is a Columbia man. The Highway Patrol lists 19-year-old Kameron Gwin as the driver of a car that hit a tree. A passenger n his car was seriously hurt.

What appears to have been the last fatal crash of 2011 killed Morrison resident Robert Theissen, who was 23. His car missed a curve, overturned and hit a tree in Gasconade County about an hour and a half before the end of 2011.

The Highway Patrol counts a little more than 770 traffic fatalities for 2011, the first time the number has been below 800 since 1949. The number might increase during January as people injured in crashes in 2011 die from their injuries.