Family of Tampa, Fla. man killed in a crash near Halltown says driver should be criminally charged

Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 10:09 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The family of a Florida man is demanding answers from authorities in Greene County.

Carrie Cooper wants to know why criminal charges didn’t get filed after her son, Storm Cooper, lost his life in a traffic accident in July 2021, just west of Springfield.

Prosecutors charged the driver, Melinda Seymour, with a traffic violation.

Cooper says she’s been trying to get answers about her son’s death and reached out to us for help.

“For his life to be snuffed at 29 and no one’s being held accountable,” she said.

Storm Cooper was a long-distance truck driver from Florida passing through Missouri at the time he was killed in a traffic accident on Highway 266 near Halltown.

Cooper says her son was smart, witty, and loved his two young daughters.

“His children were his life. They were his in and out, his up and down, his reason to live,” she said.

Cooper says she struggles to understand why Seymour didn’t get criminally charged.

“I know accidents happen but running a stop sign is not an accident. In every other state it’s vehicular manslaughter except for the state of Missouri,” she said.

Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson says his office filed charges in accordance with what was submitted by highway patrol investigators.

He said, “We have a civil system, where one obtains damages when someone is negligent, and we have a criminal system.”

Patterson explains that in order to prove criminal negligence, there must be more factors than just a single act of simple negligence.

“For example did a person speed while also racing and driving recklessly, changing lanes, or were they under the influence of a drug or alcohol? We look for a combination of things that raises it from simple negligence to criminal negligence. When you have that then you start looking at other statutes such as manslaughter,” he said. “Sometimes the facts allow us to charge the higher offense but other times we have to explain to families why we can only charge the traffic offense. Those are very hard conversations to have. You have to feel for those folks.”

Cooper is hoping that sharing her son’s story will get other drivers to be more careful.

“No, I don’t want her to get the death penalty. But what I want her to know is the next time you’re in a car look. The next time you’re in a car be attentive to what you are doing because not everybody’s not going to come home if you’re not,” she said.

Cooper says she settled a civil case against Melinda Seymour. She says her son’s family was paid out through Seymour’s insurance company.

Seymour is scheduled for a hearing in this traffic citation case next month.

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