Natalie Knudsen lost in tragic accident on Hwy. 19 South this morning

Reported by Jeff Noedel
With writing by Jeff Noedel and Brian Chorley

EDITOR'S NOTE:  CNL has removed a photo of the car some readers found disturbing.

UPDATE6 2:00 p.m.:  The Mo. State Highway Patrol has published the name of the driver of the sedan in today's fatal accident on Hwy. 19 South.  It is Natalie Knudsen, 16, who lived between Swiss and Bay.  Knudsen was a student at Hermann High School.  She was believed to be driving to school when the accident happened.

Knudsen was a popular, successful HHS sophomore.  She was a regular on the honor roll and was on the student council.  She was a Lady Bearcat, a member of the volleyball, JV basketball and track teams.  At a Hermann Middle School track meet, she broke a school record for the long jump.  Also at middle school Knudsen played for the All-District Band.

On her Facebook page, the 16-year-old listed Loutre Market as her employer.

Dr. Chris Neale, Superintendent of the Gasconade County R-1 School District, told CNL about a half-dozen counselors and clergy have already come to help at Hermann High School.  In addition to local counselors and pastors, the New Haven School District, Montgomery County School District, and St. James School District have sent counselors to help at HHS.

Neale said he is concerned about a cumulative effect at the high school, since this loss is so close to the loss of Taylor Thompson on September 5, a popular 17-year-old girl at HHS.  Neale said counselors are offering help to grieving adults at the school as well as grieving students.

In its official crash report, the Mo. State Highway Patrol said the accident began when the 1995 Mazda driven by Knudsen went off the right side of the road, overcorrected, and then moved into the path of the dump truck.  The driver of the dump truck is listed as Jimmie Buchholz, 29, of Rhineland.  His injuries are listed as "minor."

Seven state troopers worked the accident reconstruction scene, including four sargeants.

UPDATE5  1:15 p.m.:  At 1:15 p.m., an employee with the Mo. State Highway Patrol, Troop F, told CNL the Patrol expects to publish details of today's accident "in about 10 to 15 minutes."

UPDATE4 1:10 p.m.:  CNL is publishing images from today's accident, but withholding the name of the deceased driver until it is released by the Mo. State Highway Patrol.

UPDATE3 11:50 a.m.:  Hermann firefighters are clearing the accident scene

UPDATE2 9:15 a.m.:  Southbound thru-traffic on Hwy. 19 is being diverted at Rte. H (Bavarian Hills).  Rte. H intersects Rte. Z.  Then Rte. Z can be used to continue south.  Rte. Z connects back to Hwy. 19.

Northbound thru-traffic on Hwy. 19 is being diverted at Rte. Z, where drivers can get back on track to Hermann at Rte. H, or continue toward New Haven on Z.

The accident scene will be tied-up for an unspecified length of additional time, as a loaded dump truck must be removed, considerable glass and debris must be swept, and the Mo. State Highway Patrol does a thorough accident scene reconstruction.

UPDATE1: Highway 19 is closed, and it is expected to be closed for a while, due to this accident while crews clean up debris from the scene and a tow truck can transport the two vehicles, including a dump truck, from the scene. Use alternate routes if you are travelling Highway 19 south of Hermann this morning. Two options for detours would be Route Z to the east and Highway 100 to Frene Creek Rd. to the west. 

The accident occurred in the southbound lane of Highway 19 about 200 feet north of Cedar Grove Rd. Deep scrapes and gashes in the southbound lane indicate the impact occurred in that lane as the dump truck was travelling south. After impact, both vehicles travelled about 250 feet south and ended up in a ditch south of Cedar Grove Rd. Gasconade County Coroner Ben Grosse is on the scene and the State Highway Patrol is now on the scene. 

Original Report: At approximately 8:00 a.m. this morning, emergency crews responded to an accident call on Highway 19 South, about 1 mile south of Hermann. One of the two vehicles involved in the accident was a dump truck owned by Tri-County Trucking. It has been confirmed that there is a fatality as a result of the accident. The City of Hermann Police Dept., Gasconade County Sheriff Dept., Hermann Volunteer Fire Dept. and Hermann EMS have all responded to the scene.

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