Three people involved in a fiery crash that resulted in the death of a woman early Saturday on Noland Road could be facing criminal charges, according to Independence Police.


Three people involved in a fiery crash that resulted in the death of a woman early Saturday on Noland Road could be facing criminal charges, according to Independence Police.

Police have not identified the woman or the people involved until possible charges are filed.

The Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office has not yet confirmed the woman’s identity, according to a statement released by police Monday.

Shortly after 3 a.m. Saturday, a Dodge Neon slammed into a light pole near the intersection of 23rd Street and Noland Road.

There was a second vehicle connected with the crash. Both the vehicles were traveling at a high rate of speed on Noland Road through the intersection. Police at this point in the ongoing investigation declined to say if the two were racing each other, Independence Police Sgt. John Passiglia said.

There were two people in the vehicle opposite of the car that crashed, he said.

Police have interviewed the two and have conferred with Jackson County prosecutors about a possible criminal case. Both the driver and passenger of that vehicle returned to the crash scene.

“There have been no arrests at this time,” Passiglia said Monday afternoon. “The prosecutor was aware that we had them and were talking to them. They (prosecutors) said to go ahead and release them, but we are presenting a case to the prosecutor and see if they want to take charge.”

The 27-year-old driver of the crashed car, whom police interviewed as well, has been upgraded to stable condition at a local hospital. Following the crash, he was in critical condition.

“We’re guarding him at the hospital,” Passiglia said of the driver, an Independence man who they say caused the wreck. “We’re hoping he’s going to be released (Tuesday) and get him in front of a judge.”

The driver suffered a broken jaw and cuts.

In all, police are presenting two cases to the prosecutor for possible charges. One is for the driver of the crashed car and the second is for the occupants of the second vehicle.

Police believe alcohol, along with excessive speed, played a role in the crash.

“We’ve got our evidence that we’re getting finalized on what his (the driver of the crashed car) BAC (blood alcohol content) is,” Passiglia said.

Butch Nelson, an employee of The Examiner in the circulation department, was going to work when he witnessed the crash.

Upon impact with the light pole, the car’s gas tank separated, spewing gasoline in the road. The crash ignited a fire that engulfed both the car and gas tank. There were two separate fires along with lines of burning gasoline that had sprayed in the roadway.

Nelson went to help, along with other people who stopped. He opened the driver’s side door of the totaled Dodge Neon.

At this time the flames were in the back of the car and working their way to the front, he said.

Nelson grabbed the man and dragged him to safety.

Then, Nelson heard someone say there was a girl in the car, too.

He rushed over to the car, but it was too late. “I couldn’t even get to the door,” he said. “It was just too hot.”

He did not see her in the mangled mess when he was pulling the driver out.

Police believe she was unconscious or perhaps dead before flames fully enveloped the vehicle.

Passiglia said that if Nelson had not extracted the driver from the burning vehicle, there would probably be two fatalities.

Nelson downplayed the “hero” label, saying that he did what anyone would have done in that situation.