BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. -- A tragic end to the Labor Day weekend has torn a Missouri family apart. Two children are dead, their parents hospitalized, and one man stands accused of drinking and driving.
A driver is facing charges after the crash Monday evening on Interstate 70 in which two children were killed, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said Tuesday.
James L. Green, 60, of Odessa, Mo., faces two counts of 2nd degree murder, two counts of 2nd degree assault, driving while intoxicated, and driving while revoked.
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol's online crash report, around 6 p.m., just west of Adams Dairy Parkway on eastbound I-70, a Cadillac Escalade rear-ended a Hyundai Elantra carrying driver David C. Beaird, 39; Jennifer L. Beaird, 37; Gavin Beaird, 13; and Chloe Beard,7; all of Warrenton, Mo.
The Escalade then hit an Acura TL and pushed the Acura into a Chevrolet Tahoe and Ford Escape.
Gavin and Chloe Beaird were pronounced dead at the scene. David and Jennifer were transported to an area hospital with serious injuries.
Green sustained minor injuries in the crash. The occupants of the other vehicles were not seriously hurt. Everyone involved was wearing a seat belt.
"Far too often, we have these tragedies and they're so preventable," said Sergeant Colin Stosberg with Missouri Highway Patrol. "It comes down to driver error, whether it's inattention, or speed, or driving impaired."
At an emergency room, a Highway Patrol trooper reportedly smelled a strong odor of intoxicants coming from Green.
Green admitted he had been drinking before the crash, although he refused to give a breath test, the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office said in a statement. Two blood samples were later taken.
"I had cruise control on. I was on my way home. I looked down at my phone to swipe to change the song. I did not look up. I was still looking down when the impact happened," Green reportedly told police.
"I just urge people to take time out of their day, everyone's time is precious, and do the job of driving," added Sergeant Stosberg.
Court records show that Green was charged with DWI in July 2007 in Lee's Summit, Mo., to which Green pleaded guilty. His sentence was suspended and he received two years probation. Court documents also show he was found guilty of DWI in Camden County, Mo., in 1997.
Green is held in the Jackson County jail. Prosecutors have requested a cash bond of $200,000.
David and Jennifer Beaird are currently still in the hospital.