A Newton County deputy and a Granby resident were injured as a pickup and a patrol car collided early this morning and burst into flames near Elwood Junction.

A Newton County deputy and a Granby resident were injured as a pickup and a patrol car collided early this morning and burst into flames near Elwood Junction.

Richard Leavens, patrol supervisor with the Newton County Sheriff’s Department, said the crash happened shortly after 5 a.m. today on U.S. 60 Business near Missouri Highway 59, a half mile west of Elwood Junction and three miles east of Neosho.

The deputy, Kevin Stephenson, 33, of Granby, suffered burns on an arm and was treated and released at Joplin’s Freeman West Hospital. The driver of the pickup, Christopher K. Tallman, 49, of Granby, was still at Freeman Hospital undergoing tests, Leavens said.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, a westbound 1989 GMC pickup driven by Tallman lost control on the snow-covered roadway and crossed the center line.
Leavens said the patrol car then struck the truck broadside.

“Witnesses said the truck lost traction and fishtailed on the slick roadway,” Leavens said. “It must have ruptured the gas tank on the truck as a fire ensued and both vehicles burned.”

Leavens said both vehicles were traveling fairly slowly, about 45 to 50 miles an hour.
The force of the collision knocked the bed off of the three-quarter ton truck, he said, and fire consumed both vehicles.“The trunk was untouched, but everything forward burned,” Leavens said. “It melted the headers off of the motor. No one was going excessively fast: It just broke loose on the ice. As far as we can tell, no one was seriously hurt. The other driver was coherent and walking on his own. We were fortunate it was mainly property loss.”

The patrol car was a total loss, Leavens said, with the fire destroying the vehicle’s contents, including a brush guard, sirens, a mobile radio, and two weapons: An AR-15 rifle similar to an M-16 and a Mossberg shotgun. Leavens said he would have a complete inventory of the patrol’s car’s contents later today.

“It’s good that everyone got away from it, and I’m glad no one was seriously hurt,” Leavens said. “The material things, well, that’s why we have insurance. Both of the drivers appear to be OK at this point. The other guy’s not out of the hospital yet, but we hope everything comes clear.”

Neosho Daily News