City of Springfield settles case in deadly crash involving police chase

Published: Jun. 25, 2019 at 4:30 PM CDT
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The family of a Nixa woman is getting $430,000 from the city of Springfield -- after she was killed during, or shortly after a police pursuit.

Officers were, or had been chasing a man for running drugs in April of 2018.

Dana Sowards, 31, was killed at the corner of Mt. Vernon and Scenic in Springfield. She left behind her husband, and young son and daughter.

Dana was only a few blocks away from where she was headed to pick up her little boy.

Springfield police had been pursuing Tommy Morris, Junior, suspected of running drugs.

Her family says the hardest part is knowing that police-- earlier that same day-- were face to face with the suspected drug dealer-- yet they didn't arrest him then. Just a few hours later, they found themselves in a pursuit-- which ultimately led to Dana's death.

"It should have never, ever happened," said Dana Sowards mother, Beverly Adams.

Sowards mom and sister are still reeling from the 'why.'

"They should have got him (Morris) that morning when they were watching him-- they shouldn't have never had a high speed chase around a grade school when it was about time for school to let out, there could have been a bunch of children killed," said Adams.

Instead, Beverly buried her daughter. Dana's two young children are now without their mom.

"No amount of money can ever bring her back. It's not about the money. It's about maybe saving one life... or making a difference, or if nothing else just bringing this to the public attention," said Sowards' sister Rena Lawson. "Police should not be pursuing someone at 3:30 in the afternoon going 90mph in a school zone."

The City's insurance carrier has tentatively agreed to settle this case-- paying out 430-thousand to Dana's family. A judge still has to sign off on the case.

"I mean she had her whole life ahead of her, she just wanted to go to nursing school, raise them babies, and it's all taken away," Adams said.

"Rather than stopping, knowing that Morris had eluded them already, going back to the motel room and just waiting for him to come back, where he had drugs stashed in the room as I understand it," said attorney Greg Aleshire. "There was a simple way for this to never have happened."

Aleshire says this payment is the maximum under Missouri law for this type of case.

The settlement must have court approval. A hearing is set for Thursday, but attorneys don't anticipate any issues.

The City of Springfield did not agree to an interview on Tuesday.

As for the suspected drug runner-- Tommy Morris-- he is charged with second degree murder in this case; his trail is set for January.