Keeping roadways safe

Canadian County law officers will be out in full force for New Year’s Eve

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Canadian County Sheriff Chris West

From Staff Reports

There may not be as many people on the roads for New Year’s Eve Thursday, due to the ongoing pandemic.

But drivers are urged to stay sober, and thus, avoid getting pulled over.

Law officers across the county will be out for full traffic enforcement, along with efforts of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and local police departments.

Canadian County Sheriff Chris West said he is hoping the end of 2020 is a safe one.

“Let’s kick 2020 out and bring in 2021 in a good way,” West said.

West said due to the pandemic, there may be fewer New Year’s Eve parties or gathering, and possibly fewer people on the roads.

The weather report for the county for New Year’s Eve, Thursday, Dec. 31 calls for a 30% chance for a wintry mix, and snow is possible before noon on Thursday.

Sheriff’s deputies will watch for impaired drivers.

“We are hoping to have an eventless New Year’s Eve this year,” West said.

West said county sheriff’s deputies hope drivers stay sober.

“We always discourage people from drinking and driving if you are going to celebrate with alcohol,” West said.

There have been cases of wrong-way drivers who have caused fatal collisions on Interstate 40 in Canadian County this year.

Moore’s Ashley Louise Ricks, 33, was charged Dec. 3 in Canadian County District Court with four counts of second-degree murder, or in the alternative, first-degree manslaughter.

The felony charge stems from a fiery crash that occurred about 1:37 a.m. Oct. 17 on Interstate 40 westbound near mile marker 120.

Ricks allegedly caused the deaths of four people by “driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol on a public road in the wrong direction (on a divided highway) for approximately nine miles at excessive speeds” resulting in an automobile collision, according to court documents.

Prosecutors allege Ricks engaged in this conduct “with contemptuous and reckless disregard of, and in total indifference to, the life and safety of human life,” although this was done without premeditation to cause someone’s death, according to court documents.

Ricks was driving a 2017 Jeep Renegade east in the westbound lanes of I-40 when she collided head-on with a 2003 Hyundai heading west, according to an Oklahoma Highway Patrol report.

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The impact sent the Jeep into a ditch, where it overturned. The Hyundai went into the center median and burst into flames while its four occupants were trapped inside, according to the OHP.

The driver and three passengers in the Hyundai died from injuries suffered in the crash: Laura Jones, Carol Jones, Lilly Homant, 8, and Zachary Homant, 12.

Witnesses had called 911 to report the Jeep was speeding and traveling the wrong way on I-40 before the collision.

A University of Central Oklahoma student died when a wrong-way driver struck her vehicle on the John Kilpatrick Turnpike near Yukon in early October, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported.

Marissa Murrow, 19, of Oklahoma City, died Saturday, Oct. 3 from injuries suffered in the collision near SW 15 on the turnpike.

Murrow was studying special education at UCO, a university spokeswoman reported.

The patrol reports Malcom Penney, 39, of Oklahoma City, was driving north in the southbound lanes of the turnpike when his sport utility vehicle slammed into Murrow’s southbound vehicle head-on.

Murrow was taken to OU Medical Center where she died.